The U.S. is the largest single-country provider of trade capacity building (TCB) assistance in the world. This assistance—also referred to as “aid for trade”—helps developing countries take advantage of the global trading system and harness trade as an engine of growth and development. USAID works with other U.S. Government partners to provide TCB assistance to build the physical, human and institutional capacity of these countries to participate in and benefit from rules-based trade.


On behalf of the U.S. Government, USAID conducts an annual survey of all U.S. agencies providing trade-related technical assistance to developing countries and uses data to respond to inquiries from Congress, the executive branch, the WTO and the OECD. Since 2001, USAID has provided more than $6 billion of TCB assistance in more than 110 countries. Take a look at survey results on the TCB database.

USAID and their U.S. Government partners provide technical assistance to help developing countries and transition economies accede to, or comply with, the WTO and provide technical assistance to developing countries and transition economies in order to build their trade competitiveness. A few examples of the many technical assistance activities include:

  • Negotiating regional trade agreements
  • Eliminating subsidies or price controls in the trade sector
  • Encouraging business support services and information for exporting and importing companies
  • Reforming government procurement and customs procedures
  • Promoting technology transfer and removing technical barriers
  • Developing a competitive workforce
  • Encouraging trade finance through a well-developed financial sector
  • Promoting and designing sound policies related to fiscal and monetary issues, consumer protection, anti-monopoly, and commercial codes
  • Developing infrastructure
  • Designing environmental standards and technology

In order to examine the results and impact of TCB activities since 2002, USAID conducted and recently completed an evaluation entitled From Aid to Trade: Delivering Results [PDF]. The evaluation consisted of a three-phase, cross-country evaluation of U.S. government TCB, with a special focus on TCB interventions implemented by USAID. A summary of the evaluation [PDF] is available, as well as a fact sheet [PDF] highlighting the main findings of the evaluation.

For more resources, see the OECD’s main page on Aid for Trade and the WTO’s trade site. These sites provide information about the potential of Aid for Trade programs, including statistics, evaluations, and best practices of Aid for Trade programs.