Office of Trade & Regulatory Reform

USAID helps to address inefficient and inadequate transportation, logistics and trade-related infrastructure, institutional capacity and policies that can severely impede a country’s ability to compete on a global scale.


  • USAID has assisted more than 28 countries in acceding to the World Trade Organization (WTO), including many countries in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, along with others such as Vietnam, Cambodia, and Nepal.  Recently, USAID provided substantial assistance to Laos, which acceded to the WTO on February 2, 2013. 
  • USAID launched the Partnership for Trade Facilitation in November 2011, which is working with 17 countries to respond quickly to requests for assistance from trade and customs authorities for help with implementing aspects of the proposed WTO agreement on trade facilitation.
  • USAID has helped countries around the world, including Egypt, Rwanda, and Macedonia reform their business enabling environments to stimulate economic growth.  USAID projects have helped approximately 50 percent of the top reforming countries identified in annual World Bank “Doing Business” assessments, resulting in cost savings to business – both for host-country firms as well as foreign ones, including U.S. firms that export to these markets.
  • A new U.S.-sponsored assistance facility called the Standards Alliance was recently announced at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, which will help build capacity among developing countries to improve implementation of the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement (TBT) The TBT Agreement focuses on ensuring that technical regulations, standards, testing, and certification procedures do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade.

USAID Strategy and Program Focus

USAID supports countries’ efforts to achieve sustained and broad-based economic growth – creating opportunities for poverty alleviation, and stronger more competitive economies underpinned by well-functioning institutions and markets engaging all sectors of society.  The Agency’s programs help countries lower the costs and risks of doing business by improving the enabling environment through a wide-range of assistance related to reforming commercial legal systems and business regulation.  Activities focus on reforming laws and regulations, reducing compliance costs for businesses and individuals, and ensuring implementation and enforcement capacity.

Bureau for Economic Growth, Education and Environment (E3)’s Role

The Office of Trade and Regulatory Reform (TRR) was established as an independent office in 2012.  Staff provide expert advice to assist Missions with planning, assessments, and technical assistance related to trade and regulatory reform.  TRR additionally works with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to ensure consistency with U.S. trade and development policy along with implementation of trade agreements, and serves as a USAID liaison to other USG interagency partners such as the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) to better leverage investments and increase impact.

E3’s Partners

The Office of Trade and Regulatory Reform collaborates with our regional and functional bureau partners, along with USAID Missions, on issues that cut across a range of sectors and regions. We also cooperate regularly with external partners such as the World Bank Group, the International Trade Centre, the WTO, multilateral and bilateral donors, including DFID, and the private sector.

Since 2004, USAID has worked closely with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to support benchmarking and technical assistance to improve the quality of the business environment in developing countries.  In  2012, USAID, the IFC, and DFID launched a monitoring and evaluation effort to develop a new results framework and indicators (mandatory for new IFC projects) and to compile evidence on the impact of investment climate reforms on a product-by-product basis (entry reforms, insolvency, trade logistics, tax administration, inspections, etc.)

For More Information 

Last updated: March 20, 2013

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