TCB: About

What is TCB?

The United States Government (USG) supports Trade Capacity Building (TCB) activities to help developing countries more effectively participate in international trade and create stable trading relationships that promote prosperity and security.

Through its leadership in international trade, the United States fosters an expansion of open markets and democratic values and can have positive side effects such as promoting best practices, good governance, combating corruption, and reforming legal regimes.

Trade capacity building programs help developing countries to strengthen economic policies, remove trade barriers, and build well-functioning economic, political, and legal institutions. As a result, TCB programs help promote economic growth, reduce poverty, and sustain support for trade liberalization.

The United States Government, through a variety of Departments and Agencies, implements trade capacity building programs in areas including:

  • facilitating the flow of goods and services across borders,
  • participation in trade negotiations,
  • implementation of trade agreements,
  • economic responsiveness to trade opportunities, and
  • private sector development and competitiveness.

The Trade Capacity Building Investment Dashboard presents the United States Governments' work in TCB in developing and transition countries. For a detailed description of the data presented on this website, please see the Methodology section.

About the USAID Data Services

The USAID Trade Capacity Building (TCB) is maintained by USAID Data Services, an activity supported by the Knowledge Management Division in the Bureau for Management's Chief Information Office (USAID/M/CIO/KM). USAID Data Services delivers technical and professional support services to facilitate USAID's understanding, access, and quantitative analysis of development data and information. To achieve the dual tasks of economic analysis and data services, USAID Data Services is responsible for managing four major databases and websites: Trade Capacity Building,, Microenterprise Results Reporting, and International Data & Economic Analysis.

Open Data License

USAID provides data on the USAID Trade Capacity Building website ("this website") to the public to further USAID's values of transparency, participation, and collaboration in tangible ways that benefit the American people. USAID provides this data with either a Partner License or a Government Work License.

USAID asks that the "USAID Trade Capacity Building Website" be cited as the source of the data used from this website.

Data shown on TCB illustrate the United States Governments' work in TCB in developing and transition countries. USAID is providing this information as a public service and makes every effort to provide accurate and complete information. USAID expressly disclaims liability arising from use, reference to, or reliance on any data contained on this website. USAID makes no representations and grants no warranties, express or implied, and USAID specifically disclaims any other warranties, including any warranty of quality, merchantability, or fitness for a particular use or purpose. USAID will make every effort to keep this site current and to correct errors brought to our attention. Errors and data requests are best reported via USAID Data Services team at

The data posted on this website may contain hypertext links or pointers to information created or maintained by other public and private organizations. These links and pointers are provided to enhance the public’s information experience on the website and are not an endorsement of the U.S. Government. USAID does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of any linked information. USAID make no claims, or guarantees about the accuracy and completeness of external data connected to this website, and expressly disclaims liability for errors or omissions.


  • Overview


    TCB has been an important part of donor activities for the past two decades, particularly since the launch of the World Trade Organization's Doha Development Agenda. Because of the cross-cutting nature of TCB, standard measures of foreign assistance do not adequately reflect trade efforts. To remedy this information gap, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) surveys its own Missions and all U.S. Government agencies annually for reports on their TCB activities. Each year, previous data reports are verified and amended, while funding data and narrative descriptions of new activities are submitted. The ensuing annual data update provides the U.S. public and donor community with timely and informative reports on U.S. Government support for TCB around the world.

    Since 2001, USAID has conducted an annual survey on behalf of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to identify and quantify the U.S. Government's TCB activities in developing countries and transitional economies. The Trade Capacity Building database offers access to the full set of that survey data, including the funding levels for the period beginning in Fiscal Year 1999 and summary activity descriptions of each of the project activities for the period beginning in Fiscal Year 2002. Note, there is typically a one year lag from the close of the fiscal year to when the data is posted on the TCB website.

    The TCB Database is uniquely placed to meet the needs of USAID, USTR, and others. The TCB Database incorporates a broader scope of activities than other databases such as the Greenbook by including activities not only with a TCB primary focus, but also those with broader goals that have a trade-related impact.

    For example, in FY2014, total obligations to activities implemented by the State Department totaled $5.6 million in the "Trade Policy and Regulations" sector —as defined by the Greenbook concepts. For the same fiscal year, State reported to the TCB Database that it implemented $111.4 million in trade capacity building—as defined by the TCB Database concepts. The TCB Database also provides activity details which are unavailable in other databases, including narrative activity descriptions and a breakdown of TCB funding into more descriptive categories (e.g. Trade-related Infrastructure, Customs Operations, etc.).

  • History


    In the summer of 2001, the U.S. Government (USG) undertook a survey of its FY1999–FY2001 programs and activities that promote trade-related capacity building in developing countries and transition economies around the world. Details of survey findings were presented in a main report and a shorter summary report that were featured at the 4th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial in Doha, Qatar in November 2001.

    As a result of the commitments made at Doha, the need for current trade capacity building (TCB) data became increasingly more important. The United States updated the survey in the summer of 2002, collecting activity level data. Although a report was not produced, the data collected was reported to the WTO and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development – Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) in response to their data requests for a multi-donor Doha Development Agenda Database (DDAD) on Trade-Related Technical Assistance and Capacity Building. Since that time, the DDAD has been replaced by the Global Trade-Related Technical Assistance Database (GTAD), produced by the WTO. In the summer of 2003, the United States updated the survey once again. A brochure entitled "U.S. Contributions to Trade Capacity Building: Improving Lives through Trade and Aid" was prepared for the WTO Ministerial meeting in Cancun, Mexico in September 2003.

    The TCB Database has been updated every year since that time.

  • Methodology


    The Trade Capacity Building database is generated by a survey of United States Government Agencies on their trade capacity building activities and funding levels, conducted annually beginning in 2001. A technical team conducts the survey and processes the submitted data, working collaboratively with USAID's Office of Trade and Regulatory Reform (TRR) within the Bureau for Economic Growth, Education, and Environment (E3). More than two dozen U.S. Government Agencies and Departments, as well as several dozen USAID field Missions, have participated in one or all of the data collection exercises.

    Survey respondents report obligations to trade capacity building activities, including the following information for each activity: funding account code, implementing agency (and sub-agency if applicable), country or region, and TCB category. For a detailed description of each of these fields, please see the Glossary.

    The TCB Database records funding at the time of U.S. Government agency obligation, rather than disbursement or expenditure. Specific TCB activities vary in how long they are in operation. Therefore, the funding level does not correspond to the fiscal year(s) in which the activity is in operation.

    For example, in the case of a three-year project in a country from FY2010 to FY2012 where all of the funding is obligated in FY2010, the TCB Database would show all of the funding in FY2010, but none in FY2011 and FY2012. Large-scale activities arising from Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compacts are one such example. MCC Compacts typically run for five years but all funds for the entire life of the Compact are obligated the first year, and therefore recorded in the TCB Database for that time period. As a result, these MCC Compact obligations can result in a "spike" in obligations for a given fiscal year.

    The TCB Database reports only those components of U.S. Government activities that directly build trade capacity in developing countries. In many cases, the entirety of an activity qualifies as trade capacity building based on the definitions used in this survey. In some cases, however, a survey respondent may report a fraction of total obligated funding for an activity, if only certain components of that activity build trade capacity.

    The technical team reviews completed survey forms, checking for accuracy and consistency in the reporting of funding and allocation into TCB categories. Whenever a report is ambiguous or incomplete, the technical team works with the reporting U.S. Government Agency, Department, or field Mission to amend the data. In some cases in which funding flows between Agencies, some TCB-related activities may be reported by more than one Agency, Department, or Mission. The technical team checks all data for potential duplicate reporting and clarifies any possible duplication with the reporting units.

    At the conclusion of each year's survey, new data for the preceding fiscal year are released while revisions, usually modest, are made to data for the preceding years. For example, as a result of the FY2014 TCB Survey, the Millennium Challenge Corporation revised figures for FY2005-FY2013, in some cases revising the fiscal year attributed to some of its larger activities. This particular revision resulted in significant changes in overall TCB funding totals; generally, revisions made to previous years' data are small.

  • Accuracy


    Although data received are thoroughly checked for accuracy, relevance, and consistency, there is the possibility that not all TCB activities are fully or comprehensively recorded in the database. This stems from several reasons:

    1. In order for an activity to be recorded it must be voluntarily reported by a corresponding agency. Hence, a TCB-related activity that is not reported may not be recorded in the database.
    2. A corresponding agency may not have sufficient data on its activities that would enable it to submit a report at the time that data is collected. In order to control for these possibilities and enhance data integrity, several measures are taken during the annual data collection period, including a request that agencies confirm their previous year's submissions. Verified revisions are then reflected in the annual update to the TCB Database.
  • Significant Changes to the Database

    Significant Changes to the Database

    Before the FY2011 data collection began, USAID decided to streamline the number of trade capacity building categories. Because the new system of categories represents a new category based on one or more unique old categories, it was possible to revise data for FY1999–FY2010 into the same TCB category system. Categories had been previously broadened ahead of the FY2002 data collection.

    On May 16, 2005, the TCB database was revised to include two new "not specified" (ns) regions, "Eastern and Central Africa Region" and "Southern Africa Region" to include TCB activities that cannot be classified to a specific country, but are regional in scope. These new regions were added to existing regions, including "Western Africa Region." In order to add these new region codes, while keeping the survey data consistent, activities in the database from FY1999–FY2005 previously assigned to Sub-Saharan Africa Region were revised. Activities coded to Sub-Saharan Africa Region were either reallocated to Eastern and Central Africa Region or Southern Africa region, where possible. Activities that are not specific to a sub-region within Sub-Saharan Africa may still be assigned to "Sub-Saharan Africa Region".


  • TCB Categories

    TCB Categories

    The categories and definitions used to measure "Trade Capacity Building" were designed by USAID in consultation with the U.S. Office of the Trade Representative and other U.S. Government Agencies, and by drawing upon the growing body of research literature covering TCB by the international donor community. Integration into the global economy is a complex and multi-faceted task for many developing countries and transition economies. Building the capacity to engage successfully in trade, as well as to negotiate effectively in international fora, involves a broad range of sectors such as financial, legal, environmental, and labor. In light of this reality, the definitions of trade capacity building categories in this database represent an effort to most accurately gauge the contribution of U.S. foreign assistance to building the trade capacity of developing countries and transition economies.

    In order to preserve the integrity of the data, survey respondents were instructed to apply a rigorous standard for trade capacity building support using the definitions of the TCB categories. Activities were limited to those that related directly to increasing the ability of developing and transition countries to participate in global trade agreements, to engage more actively in trade itself, or to assure the benefits of trade are wide-spread among economic groups. For example, basic agricultural research, basic education and health programs, while certainly contributing to building national productive capacity, were not included because they lacked any direct link to trade. However, research on methods to control pests that were consistent with phyto-sanitary requirements on export crops was considered to have an impact on a country's ability to expand its participation in trade.

    This section provides a definition of each TCB Category used in the Trade Capacity Building Database. In some cases, the Trade Capacity Building Database is used to report on "Trade Facilitation" assistance or assistance for "Trade-related Services". These super-categories are composed of the following TCB Categories: a) Trade Facilitation: Customs Operations, Trade Promotion, Enterprise Development, FTAs and Trade Integration, and General Trade Facilitation (1999-2001); b) Trade-related Services: Trade-related Services (excluding Tourism) and Trade-related Tourism.

    TCB Category Definitions

    • Includes assistance in three areas: (1) support for the WTO accession process; (2) support to promote WTO awareness in a country; and, (3) support for implementing or complying with specific WTO agreements, except for sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures (SPS), technical barriers to trade (TBT), intellectual property rights (IPR), and trade-related procurement. NOTE: All assistance in the areas of SPS, TBT, IPR, and trade-related procurement should not be included in "WTO Accession & Compliance," but in their own, distinct categories.
    • Assistance to help countries comply with the basic rules on food safety and animal and plant health standards to ensure that food is safe to eat. Countries may set their own standards, but by international agreement, the regulations must be based on science.
    • Technical regulations and product standards may vary from country to country. If regulations are set arbitrarily, they could be used as an excuse for protectionism. TBT assistance tries to ensure that regulations, standards, testing and certification procedures do not create unnecessary obstacles.
    • Assistance to ensure that a country's laws meet standards for copyright rights, geographical indications, industrial designs, integrated circuit layout-designs, patents, monopolies given to the developers of new plant varieties, trademarks, and undisclosed or confidential business information. Assistance in this category also facilitates enforcement procedures, remedies, and dispute resolution procedures for IPR issues.
    • There are three areas of work on government procurement: transparency in government procurement, government procurement in services, and the Government Procurement Agreement itself, a "plurilateral" agreement signed by some WTO members.
    • Assistance to help countries modernize and improve their customs offices.
    • Assistance to increase market opportunities for developing country producers. Also includes assistance for increasing trade flows which do not fit in Customs Operations, Enterprise Development, or FTAs & Trade Integration.
    • Support to improve the associations and networks in the business sector, as well as to enhance the skills of business people engaged in trade. Also includes assistance to help countries acquire and use information technologies (IT) to promote trade by creating business networks, disseminating market information, and promoting e-commerce.
    • Assistance to a free trade agreement (FTA) or a regional trade agreement (RTA) or to an individual country that increases the ability of the trade agreement to facilitate trade. It can also include assistance to a potential member of a trade agreement that improves the analytical capacity of the country's government with respect to trade issues. It is not intended to include TCB assistance in a specific area that is being provided under the auspices of a regional trade agreement. For example, technical assistance to help COMESA facilitate trade among its member countries would be included in this component. However, technical assistance to help COMESA member countries comply with SPS standards should be reported in the category for Sanitary & Phyto-Sanitary Measures (SPS).
    • Trade Facilitation is a sub-heading that is used to aggregate four related TCB categories: Customs Operations, Trade Promotion, Enterprise Development, and FTAs and Trade Integration. For TCB data covering 1999 to 2001, no break down among those four categories is possible and their total each year is presented as "General Trade Facilitation."
    • Support of labor standards, worker rights, trade unions, workforce development, business education, and the social aspects of liberalization.
    • Includes financial sector work, monetary and fiscal policy, exchange rates, commodity markets, and capital markets.
    • Assistance to establish trade-related telecoms, transport, ports, airports, power, water, and industrial zones.
    • Includes assistance to establish environmental standard or to promote environmental technology.
    • Support for the design and implementation of antitrust laws, as well as of laws and regulations related to investment and investor protections. Includes support for legal and institutional reform to improve governance and make policies more transparent, as well as assistance to help the different agencies of a host country government function more effectively in the trade policy arena.
    • Support for trade-related aspects of the agriculture and agribusiness sector. Support that is intended to help countries implement Sanitary & Phyto-Sanitary Measures (SPS) should not be included.
    • Assistance to develop service industry sectors that engage in trade, but excluding tourism.
    • Assistance to develop the tourism sector for international trade.
    • A small number of TCB activities did not fit in any of the above categories, including some activities of a cross-cutting nature. These were categorized as "Other Trade Capacity Building."
  • Funding Agencies and Implementing Sub-agencies

    Funding Agencies and Implementing Sub-agencies

    The TCB Database identifies a funding agency for each activity as well as an implementing agency and, where applicable, an implementing sub-agency.

    A funding agency in the TCB Database is a Cabinet-level department or independent agency of the U.S. Federal Government whose budgetary resources are being used for trade capacity building assistance. Some agencies, such as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) or the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), feature prominently in lists of funding agencies reporting the largest amounts most years. Other agencies, such as the Peace Corps, report relatively modest amounts of TCB funding.

    The implementing agency or implementing sub-agency for a specific TCB activity is not necessarily the same as the funding agency. A USAID Mission, for example, might fund assistance to enable a developing country to improve the business environment for trade, but the program could be implemented by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). While the funding agency is the government unit whose budgetary resources are being used for TCB, the implementer is the government unit whose technical expertise is being engaged.

    In some cases, the implementer represents a narrower organizational unit with the broader funding agency. For example, implementing sub-agencies for USAID are field Missions or Washington-based Bureaus and Offices. For Cabinet-level departments, the implementing sub-agencies are the Bureaus and Services which comprise the Department. For some implementing agencies in the TCB Database, the agency itself is the most specialized administrative unit (i.e., there is no sub-agency). Examples of this include the Peace Corps, Inter American Foundation, and the African Development Foundation.

  • Countries, Regions, and Trade Group Secretariats

    Countries, Regions, and Trade Group Secretariats

    Survey respondents can report funding to a particular country, a general geographic region, or a trade group secretariat. For simplicity, these are referred to jointly as "countries" on this website.

    The Trade Capacity Building Database of USG assistance includes funding for bilateral and regional activities benefiting developing countries and transition economies. "Developing countries" are generally those countries listed on the OECD's DAC List of Official Development Assistance (ODA) Recipients, countries with per capita incomes in the low or middle ranges of the World Bank classification system. "Transition economies" are those which are adopting market-based systems and similar institutions. These transition economies are either former republics of the Soviet Union or former centrally planned economies.

    There are two exceptions to the general definition of a "developing country":

    1. There are some countries (e.g., Korea and Barbados) which were classified as "high-income" countries by the World Bank for only some of the data years. For these periods, although not classified as "developing" under the strict definition, they were included in the TCB Database to keep the data coverage consistent.
    2. There are some countries (e.g., the Bahamas) which were classified as "high-income" for all of the data years, but for which bilateral trade capacity assistance is provided within the context of a regional trade group that is itself primarily comprised of developing countries. Countries such as these were included in the TCB Database so that the data coverage would fully reflect USG assistance to different groups of developing countries. As of the FY2015 TCB Survey, these high-income countries are not eligible for reporting to the TCB Database, except as part of regional programs that serve a trade group or general region. For example, funding provided to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Secretariat may benefit both developing and developed members of that trade group. Because developing countries benefit, however, that funding is eligible for reporting under the TCB Database.

    In cases where an activity serves a general geographic region, but it is difficult or impractical to divide funding at the country level, survey respondents may report that an activity serves a general geographic region (e.g. Sub-Saharan Africa Region, Middle East Region, or in some cases, Global). Survey respondents are asked to report at the greatest level of detail possible. Funding to a particular country is only counted once and not included as funding to that country's general region. On this website's Dashboard feature, users can see funding to a general geographic region by hovering over countries in that region.

    Some geographic regions used for reporting through the TCB Survey do overlap (for example, a respondent can select either Sub-Saharan Africa Region or Southern Africa Region). For simple display on this website and for reporting purposes, countries are also divided into mutually-exclusive regions, shown in the "Region" donut chart above the map in the Dashboard feature.

    Survey respondents may report funding that is provided directly to a trade group secretariat to be used for trade capacity building programs administered through the secretariat itself.


  • What kinds of activities count as "Trade Capacity Building"?

    What kinds of activities count as "Trade Capacity Building"?

    The TCB Database includes activities that help developing countries more effectively participate in international trade and create stable trading relationships that promote prosperity and security. The TCB Database uses a relatively broad definition of "trade capacity building" that accounts for the cross-cutting nature of trade. For example, this definition includes activities related to the financial sector, tourism, labor, and environmental standards. Please see the What is TCB? section of this website and the list of Categories in the Glossary for a complete picture of the types of activities covered by the TCB Database.

    The TCB Database includes only activities that specifically address at least one of the Categories listed in the Glossary. Activities without a specific focus on at least one Category may have indirect effects on a country's ability to trade, but such activities are not included in the TCB Database.

    For example, the TCB Survey includes the category "Trade-Related Tourism", which is defined as assistance to develop the tourism sector for international trade. Tourism is a component of the services trade, and therefore activities that boost tourism are TCB activities. An example of eco-tourism is found in the FY14 Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) activity titled "Conservation in Way Kambas National Park" in Indonesia. This activity qualifies as "Trade-related Tourism" because the conservation work performed by FWS facilitates eco-tourism by attracting international tourists to Indonesia's Kambas National Park.

    Some U.S. Government TCB activities include some components that count as TCB and other components that do not count as TCB. In those cases, the TCB Database reports only funding for those components that count as TCB. Because of this, funding for a particular activity shown on this website may be smaller than total funding for that activity.

  • Does the TCB Database report obligations or disbursements?

    Does the TCB Database report obligations or disbursements?

    The TCB Survey captures obligations made during the fiscal year, not appropriations or disbursements, in current $US.

    An obligation is a binding agreement that will result in outlays, immediately or in the future. Budget resources must be available before obligations can be legally incurred.

  • How are the income groups shown on the TCB Investment Dashboard defined?

    How are the income groups shown on the TCB Investment Dashboard defined?

    The "income groups" feature on the TCB Investment Dashboard classifies countries into income groups based on GNI per capita, as defined by the World Bank in a given fiscal year. For example, the World Bank classified Iraq as a lower-middle income country in FY2013 (the Bank's fiscal year) and an upper-middle income country in FY2014. The TCB Database follows this convention.

    The TCB Database reports obligations made in a specific fiscal year. For example, if funding is obligated to an activity in FY2015, but the funding was originally appropriated in FY2014, the funding will appear in the TCB Database as FY2015 funding.

  • Does the TCB Database report on a calendar or fiscal year basis?

    Does the TCB Database report on a calendar or fiscal year basis?

    The TCB Database reports obligations made to activities on a fiscal year basis.

    The fiscal year of the United States Government begins on October 1st and ends on September 30th and is designated by the calendar year in which it ends.

  • How does the TCB Database account for funding transferred between different U.S. Government Agencies?

    How does the TCB Database account for funding transferred between different U.S. Government Agencies?

    The TCB Database includes information about the U.S. Government Agency that funds the TCB activity, as well as the Agency that implements the TCB activity. Funds transferred from one Agency to another would have an "Implementing Agency" different from the associated "Funding Agency".

    For this reason, the total amounts (in $US) "funded" and "implemented" by a particular U.S. Government Agency in a particular fiscal year may be different.

    The TCB Database is populated through an annual survey of all U.S. Government Agencies engaging in TCB activities. In some cases, multiple Agencies may submit funding data for the same activity. Prior to publishing the data on this website, a USAID team reviews all data submitted each year to ensure that there is no double counting in the TCB Database.

  • How does the TCB Database report an activity performed in multiple countries?

    How does the TCB Database report an activity performed in multiple countries?

    Funding is reported at the most disaggregated level possible in the TCB Database. Therefore, where possible, the TCB Database breaks out funding for an activity by recipient country.

    In cases where an activity serves a general geographic region, but it is difficult or impractical to divide funding at the country level, the TCB Database reports that an activity benefits a general geographic region (e.g. Sub-Saharan Africa Region, Middle East Region, Western Africa Region or in some cases, Global) at the greatest level of detail possible. When you hover over a country on the TCB Investment Dashboard, you will see bilateral funding to that country, as well as non-specified funding to any geographical regions that the country belongs to.

    NOTE: There is no "double counting" in the TCB Database. Funding is reported at the country-level or regional level, but not both.

Contact Us

For questions or technical assistance please contact USAID Data Services at

You might be able to find the information you need right now by checking:

  • What is TCB? Provides a brief overview of trade capacity building assistance
  • Frequently Asked Questions Gives quick answers to some more common questions.
  • Methodology outlines how the data is collected and the history of the trade capacity building survey
  • Glossary details the terms used