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GAO discussed executive branch efforts to identify foreign countries that discriminated against U.S. firms in their government procurement practices. GAO noted that: (1) the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) was responsible for preparing an annual report regarding such practices, negotiating with countries to correct those practices, and imposing sanctions that would limit access to U.S. government procurement in the event of unsuccessful negotiations; (2) USTR did not use all of the time available to it to identify countries engaging in discriminatory procurement practices; (3) USTR broadly investigated virtually all countries, rather than focusing on the most significant countries or those where the United States had the necessary leverage to effect change; (4) investigation and identification of discriminatory trade practices was difficult and time consuming; and (5) lack of international trade procurement expertise, resource constraints, and private firms' fear of retaliation for reporting discrimination hindered efforts to identify discriminatory practices. GAO believes that narrowing the scope of future investigations and expanding General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade coverage to other procurement areas will help USTR to achieve some progress in increasing U.S. sales to foreign governments.

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