The Action Program Committee has drafted the following voluntary measures on government procurement.(1) The Action Program for Improved Market Access (Outline)
a. Adoption of External Economic Measures
On 9 April 1985, the Ministerial Conference for Economic Measures, taking into account policy suggestions by the Advisory Committee for External Economic Issues, adopted the External Economic Measures, decided to draft and implement an Action Program designed to improve market access and set the basic policies of stipulating a provisional program time frame of within three years and the drafting of a program framework by the end of July 1985.
b. Establishment of the Government-Ruling Parties Joint Headquarters for the Promotion of External Economic Measures
In order to pursue the External Economic Measures, draft and implement the Action Program, and promote other important items related to external economic issues, the Government-Ruling Parties Joint Headquarters for the Promotion of External Economic Measures (Chairperson: Prime Minister; membership: all Cabinet members and ruling party executives) was established on 19 April 1985, by an Understanding at a high-level meeting of the government and the ruling party.
c. Adoption on the Outline of the Action Program for Improved Market Access
The Joint Headquarters adopted the Outline of the Action Program for Improved Market Access on 30 July 1985.
Specifying the program's objective to open the Japanese market to a degree surpassing international standards, the introduction to this Outline states that the Joint Headquarters shall closely review new developments in the implementation of this program and ensure the program's practical effectiveness.
Government procurement represents one of the six areas included in this Outline. (The Outline covers: (1) tariffs; (2) import quota; (3) Standards and Certifications, and Import Procedures; (4) government procurement; (5) financial and capital markets; (6) services and imports promotion measures, etc.).
d. Establishment of the Action Program Committee(reference material I - 2)
The Committee for Drawing up and Promoting the Action was also established on 30 July, by a decision of the Joint Headquarters.(Note)
e. Decision on continuation of follow-ups
The Action Program Committee confirmed at its 12th Meeting on 4 August 1988 that the measures drafted for each sector in the Action Program had been almost fully implemented and agreed to continue its review of new developments in the standards and approval to imports process as well as in the government procurement sector. Accordingly, it was agreed that the Committee should temporarily continue to remain active.
Various voluntary measures designed to ensure non-discriminatory, transparent, fair and open competition in the government procurement process have subsequently been taken.
f. Adoption of the Understanding on Government Procurement
At its 16th Meeting held on 19 November 1991, the Action Program Committee adopted the Understanding on Government Procurement which established voluntary implementation of measures from 1 April 1992, as part of the government's open-market policy. These measures included the lowering of the total specified procurement standard (from 130,000 SDR prescribed by the Agreement on Government Procurement to 100,000 SDR), official announcement of major scheduled government procurement items in the Government Procurement Kanpo publication at the beginning of the fiscal year, extension of the period between the public announcement (official notice) of a bid and awarding of the tender (from a 40-day period prescribed by the Agreement to the basic 50-day period) and expansion of the Understanding to cover more procurement entities.
g. Establishment of the Action Program Committee in the Cabinet
After the change of ruling parties in August 1993, the Cabinet passed a decision on 13 August 1993, to transfer the jurisdiction of the Committee from the Joint Headquarters to the Cabinet. The Committee retained the same function and its original name (Committee for Drawing up and Promoting the Action Program).(2) The Action Program on Government Procurement
a. Adoption of the Action Program on Government Procurement
The Action Program on Government Procurement was adopted by the Action Program Committee at its 20th Meeting on 3 February 1994. This program, in response to domestic and foreign demands for more transparency, more fairness and more competitiveness in government procurement procedures, included radical reforms of government procurement procedures, improved methods for official announcement of government procurement information, an improved mechanism to provide government procurement information, the establishment of a system for filing grievances related to government procurement and complaint review procedures for government procurement.
b. Adoption of the Procedures for Government Procurement on Products (Operational Guidelines)
The Action Program Committee adopted the Procedures for Government Procurement on Products (Operational Guidelines) as a set of guidelines offering more convenience to suppliers, improving market access for competitive domestic and foreign suppliers and establishing thoroughly explicit government procurement procedures, based on the Action Program on Government Procurement at its 21st Meeting held on 28 March 1994.
c. The Understanding on Government Procurement in the Service Sector
The Understanding on Government Procurement in the Service Sector was adopted at the 25th Meeting of the Action Program Committee held on 11 December 1995. This led to the expansion of the Operational Guidelines to include services offered by Japan, since the new Agreement on Government Procurement incorporating the service sector, which had not been applicable to the old Agreement, was to take effect on 1 January 1996.