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The U.S. Trade and Development Agency helps companies create U.S. jobs through the export of U.S. goods and services for priority development projects in emerging economies.  USTDA links U.S. businesses to export opportunities by funding project preparation and partnership building activities that develop sustainable infrastructure and foster economic growth in partner countries.

Priority Sectors

USTDA’s sector teams have cultivated in-house technical expertise in key industries, helping the Agency analyze global demand and identify sectors that represent the greatest opportunity for growth in U.S. exports.  As a result, USTDA targets its programming in the energy, transportation and telecommunications sectors, where U.S. firms are most competitive and where the Agency’s assistance can help its partner countries develop the infrastructure needed for trade.


USTDA supports efforts to expand energy generation by helping its partner countries develop renewable energy resources, invest in cleaner forms of traditional energy and modernize electric grids to increase efficiency, reliability and sustainability. Smart Grid Today recognized the Agency’s efforts to help its partner countries modernize their grids by naming it a 2013 Smart Grid Pioneer. 

In FY 2015, USTDA committed over half of its energy investments to renewable power. These project preparation activities have the potential to unlock over $4.3 billion in financing and produce over 2,400 megawatts of new renewable energy. 


Well-functioning transportation networks – air, surface and maritime – are vital to an economy’s growth potential.  USTDA has decades of experience working with its partner countries to modernize transportation infrastructure to facilitate the movement of people and goods, both within and across borders.  From providing technical assistance that supports trade facilitation, to piloting U.S. technologies for customs systems at borders, to modernizing “hard” infrastructure at ports, railways and airports, the Agency introduces high-performing U.S. solutions that can increase capacity, enhance efficiency and improve safety.

USTDA’s Aviation Cooperation Programs in China and India, respectively, and its Aviation Partnership in Brazil provide a platform for aviation officials to address safety and security priorities.  These public-private partnerships also support the expansion of airport infrastructure and the emergence of business aviation in these markets.  U.S. businesses have generated billions of dollars in exports as a result of the Agency’s investments, demonstrating the value of advanced U.S. technologies and services, including security equipment as well as communications and air traffic management systems.


Almost every aspect of advanced infrastructure development involves telecommunications.  USTDA has long led efforts to help its overseas partners provide services using these platforms.  As their populations become larger, more interconnected and increasingly urbanized, emerging economies are focused on deploying telecom tools that support smarter, more sustainable cities. Previously, they invested in “intelligent” solutions for transportation, energy and e-citizen services.  But they now realize that the key to a truly “smart” city – one with increased efficiency and engaged citizens – is integration.

USTDA’s support helps emerging markets identify U.S. solutions that foster integrated, safe and efficient urban infrastructure.  Since 2009, the Agency has sponsored almost 200 activities that have led to over $800 million in U.S. exports of smart solutions for cities around the world.

Priority Regions

Focusing on select priority countries has been a successful strategy for USTDA.  It allows the Agency to increase market penetration and target its funding in areas where U.S. companies are most competitive.  In FY 2017, USTDA is prioritizing 21 markets that offer solid potential for success, including growth opportunities for U.S. exports and strong developmental benefits for overseas partners.  The majority of these markets fall within the world’s fastest-growing regions. .

Strategic Programs

USTDA accomplishes its mission by providing grants to overseas sponsors for priority infrastructure projects in their countries.  The funding may be used to perform a feasibility study, launch a pilot project or provide a diverse array of technical assistance.  USTDA also connects project sponsors with U.S. businesses through its reverse trade missions, which bring overseas decision-makers to the United States to introduce them to the design, manufacture and operation of U.S. goods and services in advance of their procurement decisions.  

USTDA’s success is a result of its evidence-based approach, which allows the Agency to allocate its budget for activities that have significant opportunities for both U.S. exports and developmental impacts.  USTDA evaluates its program tools on a continual basis to determine its overall effectiveness and responsiveness to U.S. industry goals, U.S. government policy priorities and emerging market needs.  Currently, USTDA’s program generates $95 in exports of U.S.-manufactured goods and services for every $1 programmed for priority development projects in emerging markets. The Agency’s programs have generated over $57.6 billion in U.S. exports, supporting an estimated 300,000 U.S. jobs, since USTDA was established in 1992.

USTDA carries out its mission by providing grants directly to overseas project sponsors who, in turn, select U.S. companies to perform the USTDA-funded activities.  USTDA evaluates projects primarily based on:

  • Their priority to the project sponsor and the countries where they are located and their likelihood of receiving implementation financing; and
  • Whether they offer mutual economic benefit for the host country and the United States, including opportunities for U.S. firms to export goods and services into those projects.

USTDA also considers a project’s potential adverse environmental and labor implications and makes recommendations to avoid and/or mitigate either prior to a funding commitment by the Agency.

International Business Partnerships

USTDA has increased its support for programs designed to bring procurement officials to the United States to witness U.S. technology and ingenuity firsthand and develop the relationships with U.S. companies necessary to spur increased exports to emerging economies. By increasing investments in reverse trade missions, technology demonstrations, training and specialized sector-specific workshops and conferences, USTDA is helping U.S. industry create high-paying export related jobs.

Relationship with Small Businesses

Small businesses are the foundation of the U.S. economy and hence play a critical role in the global marketplace. USTDA, through its unique foreign assistance program, is proud to support U.S. small businesses by helping them expand into emerging economies. In carrying out its mission, USTDA relies upon the technical expertise of small consulting and engineering firms to perform due diligence activities that help define projects, provide sector specific guidance, and evaluate technical and economic impacts for every project USTDA considers for funding. In addition to Definitional Mission (DM) and Desk Study (DS) contract opportunities, small businesses successfully compete for larger USTDA-funded projects such as feasibility studies, training and technical assistance activities. In fact, small businesses are awarded over 40% of these larger international contracts that range from $100,000 to $1 million. One of the key benefits of working with USTDA from the viewpoint of a small business is gaining access to international markets that are difficult and often cumbersome to navigate. As a result, many small businesses have been able to grow via the international contacts they have made while working with USTDA.

Working with U.S. Industry to Open Markets for U.S. Exports

The Making Global Local program is the centerpiece of the Agency’s domestic outreach strategy.  Designed to support U.S. jobs by increasing the number of U.S. businesses that benefit from USTDA’s export promotion programs, Making Global Local enables the Agency to connect with companies of all sizes across the country.  USTDA has established partnerships with over 100 state and local trade promotion organizations in 33 states. These organizations provide the Agency with market intelligence on key industry clusters, cutting-edge manufacturers and innovative service providers – the majority of which are small and medium-sized enterprises – that helps USTDA better connect U.S. businesses with overseas buyers. 

Additional Information

USTDA is a foreign assistance agency pursuant to section 661 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (22 USC 2421).