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The international trade community increasingly focuses upon the purchasing practices of nation states. Developing nations and states seeking to improve their procurement systems expect to glean lessons from the evolution of procurement law regimes in developed nations, including the United States. To the extent that the U.S. procurement regime is perceived (at least by some) as a model, the global community has been intrigued by the United States government's efforts to adopt more commercial practices and buy more commercial items. Yet numerous impediments to a purely commercial public procurement model remain, because commercial practices are invariably less transparent, and raise troubling questions regarding competition and integrity. The paper thus sounds a cautionary note to developing states. Efforts to conform private sector models to government procurement regimes - no matter how efficient or practical - may prove inconsistent with the expectations of trade negotiators and could run contrary to the framework of the WTO's Government Procurement Agreement.

GW Paper Series

GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 048


Draft version; published later in International Trade Law and Regulation, Vol. 9, 2003.