International Cooperation and the Reform of Public Procurement Policies
The stalemate reached on launching negotiations on most of the Singapore Issues at Cancún provides an opportunity to revisit the knowledge base upon which proposals for international collective action may be drawn. This Paper examines the available evidence on public procurement practices in developing countries that could be relevant to multilateral rule making. Although there is considerable agreement on ends (efficient, non-corrupt, and transparent public purchasing systems), little information is available on means: effective and replicable strategies that developing countries have adopted to improve their public procurement systems. A concerted effort to substantially add to the knowledge base on public procurement reforms in developing countries, through targeted research and international exchange of information on applied procurement policies and outcomes, is critical to identify areas where binding multilateral disciplines may be beneficial. The literature surveyed in this Paper suggests that reforms of public procurement systems are often guided by international instruments and templates, but are not informed by quantitative assessments of the cross-country experience as regards the different options, mechanisms and technologies that can be adopted. A research agenda to help fill these lacunae is presented – implementation of which might inform a WTO-based effort to identify options for international cooperation.
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