The text of the agreement establishes rules that require open, fair and transparent conditions of competition for public procurement. However, these rules do not automatically apply to all purchasing activities of each party. On the contrary, hedging schedules play a key role in determining whether or not a buying activity is covered by the agreement. Only purchase activities carried out by listed companies that purchase goods, services or listed works above the specified thresholds are covered by the agreement. These calendars are open to the public. The GPA is a multi-lateral agreement within the WTO framework, which means that not all WTO members are parties to the agreement. Currently, the agreement consists of 20 parties, with 48 WTO members. Thirty-six WTO members/observers participate in the GPA committee as observers. Of these, 12 members are in the process of joining the agreement. 2.

There are also many bilateral agreements and several regional agreements. The main regional agreements similar to the GPA are those of the EC, the EEA, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Central European Free Trade Area. Work is underway on the North and South American Free Trade Area Initiative as part of merCOSUR and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (see Infra.29) as part of the Public Procurement Forum. Therefore, the transport of these goods is permitted only in the territories and for the benefit of the contracting parties that are signatories to this agreement. The competent authority of the United Kingdom considers that the United Kingdom, if it signs a bilateral or multilateral agreement authorizing the international transport of certain dangerous goods on and off its territory without full respect for the ADR, would authorize the domestic transport of this property with the same exemptions, but only by the air carriers of the United Kingdom and other countries that are signatories to this agreement. Bilateral/multilateral agreements essentially modify ADRs for the contracting parties that sign them, but the other parties remain subject to the full requirements of the ADR in those areas. 29. Any WTO transparency agreement is expected to be in the form of a legally binding treaty, consisting of general rules applicable to all signatories, unless special exceptions are granted. This approach is echoed in the following analysis. This is different from the non-binding approach taken by the Asia Pacific Economic Co Operation Forum (APEC), which recently developed a non-binding document on public procurement transparency for use within APEC.

In addition, the general principles of transparency set out in the document as well as the specific rules and procedures for taking effect of the principles are considered optional.