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United States Trade and Development Agency

The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) is an independent agency of the United States government, established in 1961 to advance economic development and U.S. commercial interests in developing and middle income countries.

United States
Trade and Development Agency
Seal of the United States Trade and Development Agency.svg
Agency overview
Formed1961; 58 years ago (1961)
Headquarters1000 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA
Annual budget$56.2 million (FY 2012) [2]
Agency executives
  • vacant (Darrell Issa, nominee), Director
  • Enoh T. Ebong, Deputy Director
  • Peter C. Barrett, Chief of Staff


General information and HistoryEdit

USTDA is located in Rosslyn in Arlington County, Virginia. The agency currently works in 66 countries.[3] When the USTDA was created in 1961, the ideas and programs it was founded on came from foreign assistance initiatives that were developed in the Mutual Security Act of 1954, and the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. These acts addressed the idea of using taxpayer dollars overseas in order to help promote foreign trade with the US. For the first 19 years of its existence, this program was known as the Agency for International Development (USAID). In 1980, the agency was renamed the United States Trade and Development Program after it was combined with multiple other offices within this umbrella of programs. In 1992, the name of the program was again changed to its current name, the United States Trade and Development Agency. Lawmakers supported the name change to clarify and emphasize that USTDA is an independent agency and to increase its visibility both internally and abroad as a promotion tool with foreign trade partners.


The agency's legal basis is section 661 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (22 USC 2421).[4] USTDA's mission is to “promote economic growth in developing and middle income countries, while simultaneously helping American businesses to export their products and services, thereby creating U.S. jobs”.

USTDA's programs are designed to help countries establish a favorable trading environment and a modern infrastructure that promotes sustainable economic development. According to USTDA, the agency's development assistance has always involved building partnerships between U.S. companies and overseas project sponsors to bring proven private-sector solutions to developmental challenges.[5] As part of its programs, USTDA funds various forms of technical assistance, early investment analysis, training, orientation visits, and business workshops in the areas of trade capacity building and sector development, and project definition and investment analysis.[6]

USTDA works closely with other federal agencies to advance host country development objectives, but unlike U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), USTDA gives preference to projects that promote the export of U.S. goods and services. Most USTDA projects are located in Africa, Latin America, and Asia.[7] The agency's activities span a wide variety of sectors, although projects in the transportation and energy and power sectors account for 43% of the funding in 2008.[7] In 2008, USTDA obligated over a total of $46 million in support of projects in 66 host counties around the world, including 67 technical assistance activities, 41 feasibility studies, and 24 orientation visits.[8]

In 2010, President Barack Obama signed an executive order, the National Export Initiative, in an attempt to double the amount of US exports through 2015. To support this project, the USTDA launched the International Business Partnership Program, a program that helped connect American manufacturers with international trade partners around the world.[9]


The USTDA came under fire in December 2000 when they granted funding to RKR Enterprises to begin exploring oil initiatives and reserves in Uganda. This was controversial because of the unrest at the time over Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, who had been accused of jailing political opponents. Doing business with and oppressive regime such as this one was met with heavy criticism from the American public.[10]


  1. ^ USTDA: About USTDA: Staff. Retrieved on 2013-08-12.
  2. ^
  3. ^ USTDA: About USTDA: Mission Statement. Retrieved on 2013-08-12.
  4. ^ Section 661 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. See 22 USC 2421.
  5. ^
  6. ^ USTDA: Program & Activities. Retrieved on 2013-08-12.
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ USTDA: About USTDA: At-a-Glance. Retrieved on 2013-08-12.
  9. ^ B., Epstein, Susan (1993-08-05). "The Trade and Development Agency". Digital Library.
  10. ^ "AllGov - Departments". Retrieved 2018-11-01.

External linksEdit