International Government Procurement Issues

T-NSIAD-89-50: Published: Sep 27, 1989. Publicly Released: Sep 27, 1989.

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GAO discussed international government procurement issues, focusing on the countries' efforts to eliminate discrimination in purchasing decisions. GAO found that: (1) in 1981, countries wanting to eliminate international trade barriers negotiated an agreement that obligated them to provide information on every stage of their procurements; (2) the agreement covered $17 billion of U.S. government procurement and over $20 billion of foreign government procurement, but excluded telecommunications, electrical, and transportation equipment; (3) exclusion of certain countries, entities, products, and procurements limited the agreement's coverage and the government procurement opportunities for U.S. suppliers, while deficiencies in reported procurement information precluded assessment of participation benefits; (4) although countries improved their statistical reporting, total foreign procurement in 1985, 1986, and 1987 was far below the original estimates, while the United States accounted for about 80 percent of all procurement opportunities; (5) Congress perceived continued discrimination against U.S. suppliers and an inadequate multilateral enforcement mechanism, and passed the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act; and (6) although the act requires the administration to identify countries that discriminate against the United States in their procurements and to limit their access to U.S. procurement if negotiations do not correct unfair practices, the administration may not have the resources to carry on agreement negotiations and conduct investigations, as Congress envisioned.

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