The Foreign Office has received 45 expressions of interest from architects. It is cutting this to between five and 10.
Some practices have not submitted bids because specialist local knowledge would be required for projects in more obscure countries. One practice said: "We didn't bid for it as it is difficult to obtain a good store of local knowledge in some countries."
The Foreign Office has also invited expressions of interest for similar framework deals with quantity surveyors, structural engineers, mechanical and electrical engineers, structural engineers and chartered surveyors.
Cyril Sweett is known to have bid for the QS role, and Faithful & Gould is thought to have expressed an interest.
The shortlists for architects and QSs are expected to be finalised by the end of this month.