Canada's International Trade Obligations: Barrier or opportunity for sustainable public procurement?
- Canada's commitments under the World Trade Organization Agreement on Government Procurement or the Canada–EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) do not impede sustainable public procurement. Where sustainable public procurement is interpreted as favouring certain groups within an economy, such as local suppliers, however, difficulties arise.
- The regulatory framework is often perceived as a barrier to sustainability in the procurement process, but it is not an actual one. Increasingly, regulatory frameworks, in Canada and internationally, make reference to green or sustainable procurement. The actual barriers to sustainable procurement are the capacity of procurement agencies, financial constraints, the absence of political will and recognizing that public procurement is a strategic rather than an administrative function of government.
This paper explores the extent to which Canada's international trade obligations pose a barrier or opportunity for sustainable public procurement. It finds that green procurement is increasingly encouraged in international trade agreements. Social procurement, where attention is paid to worker's conditions across the supply chain, is neither encouraged nor prohibited under the agreements. Favouring selected groups (small and medium-sized enterprises, women-owned or Indigenous-owned enterprises) in society is discouraged and "buying local" is prohibited.
The paper finds also that the number of Canadian entities bound by these international rules has increased with the adoption of the Canada–EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Nonetheless, many procurement processes do not fall within the realm of the international trade agreements and therefore do not even have to take them into consideration.
Finally, the paper concludes that unpacking the legal framework around public procurement and its relation with sustainability is only one piece of the puzzle. Implementing sustainable procurement also means investing in the skillset of procurers, building in sustainability across the procurement cycle, and working together in a transparent manner with suppliers to ensure that public procurement is used in a strategic way and delivers the best value for money for taxpayers. A set of recommendations at the end of the paper provided input for discussion at a workshop in March 2019.
You might also be interested in
Fight hunger and malnutrition by rebuilding trust in trade and markets
Global progress tackling malnutrition is going backwards, with poverty and economic downturns jeopardizing prospects for reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.
Global Market Report: Soybeans
This report examines how voluntary sustainability standards can play a valuable role in addressing some of the social and environmental problems involved in soybean production.
Why carbon tariffs could be coming to Canada soon
So-called “carbon border adjustments” involve tariffs imposed by countries with carbon pricing on imports from jurisdictions without equivalent policies.
Following week of trade discussions, 4 takeaways for LDCs
As 2020 continues its turmoil, the global trade community is continuing to try and adapt, along with everyone else. With the cancellation of the WTO's annual Public Forum, Geneva Trade Week came to fill in the gap.