Impact Assessment

From Aid to Trade: Delivering Results. A Cross-Country Evaluation of USAID Trade Capacity Building (2010)

    The United States government provides trade capacity building (TCB) assistance covering a range of programs with the common aim of furthering economic opportunities through global trade and investment. TCB is defined as assistance to help countries negotiate and implement trade agreements and build the physical, human, and institutional capacity to benefit from trade and investment opportunities. This report presents the findings of a three-phase, cross-country evaluation of U.S. government trade capacity building, with a special focus on the segment of this portfolio that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) administers.

    Summary of results
    Overall, the evaluation found that U.S. TCB assistance since the launch of WTO negotiations in 2001 has had a positive impact in developing countries. Project documents detail a range of successful USAID strategies that help firms and governments meet the demands of the international marketplace, improve the policy environment for trade, and enable countries’ trade and logistics systems to function more efficiently. The evaluation found U.S.assistance to be significantly associated with increases in the value of recipient countries’ exports, after controlling for a wide range of factors that have influenced international trade flows over the last decade. Other investigative techniques revealed assistance synergies that can improve the results of TCB assistance.

    Important among these strategies is working toward more competitive public and private sector practices simultaneously. Synergies are also found in combining training, analysis, technical advice, and equipment to deliver an integrated assistance package. Further analysis revealed the critical importance of strong relations with counterparts and the coordination of assistance with counterparts’ own reform processes.

    The report highlights a number of key opportunities to improve monitoring and evaluation of trade capacity building assistance. These include establishing a framework of intended USAID TCB results and appropriate measures of those results.