Skip to main content.
Trade Capacity Building Database


Background and History of the TCB Database

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 1 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 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 Since that time, the DDAD has been replaced by the Global Trade-Related Technical Assistance Database (GTAD), produced by the WTO.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 U.S. updated the survey once again. A brochure entitled "U.S. Contributions to Trade Capacity Building: Improving Lives through Trade and Aid2 was prepared for the WTO Ministerial meeting in Cancun, Mexico in September 2003.

The TCB Database has been updated every year since that time. In each case, new data for the preceding fiscal year are released while modest revisions are made to data for the preceding years.

Methodology Introduction

This database was generated by annual surveys of United States Government agencies, beginning in 2001, of their trade capacity building activities and funding levels. A technical team conducted the survey and data processing, working collaboratively with the Office of Economic Growth at the United States Agency for International Development. More than two dozen U.S. Government agencies and departments, as well as several dozen USAID field missions, participated in one or all of the data collection exercises. The technical team reviewed completed survey forms, checking for accuracy and consistency in the reporting of funding and allocation into TCB categories. Whenever a report was ambiguous or incomplete, the technical team worked with the reporting U.S. Government agency, department, or field mission to amend the data.

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.

New TCB Category System Adopted Starting in FY2011

Before the FY2011 data collection was begun, 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. The following table shows the relationship between the new category system and the previously published categories.

TCB Categories
New TCB Category Previously Published TCB Categories
WTO Accession and Compliance sum of
  • Agreements on Trade in Goods
  • Agreement on Agriculture
  • Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Investment Measures (TRIMS)
  • Agreement on Anti-Dumping
  • Agreement on Customs Valuation Methods
  • Agreement on Rules of Origin
  • Agreement on Import Licensing Procedures
  • Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (CVM)
  • Agreement on Safeguards
  • General Agreement on Trade in Services
  • Agreement on Disputes Settlement
  • WTO Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM)
  • Other WTO Agreements
  • WTO Awareness
  • WTO Accession
Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary Measures (SPS) equal to Agreement on Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary Measures (SPS)
Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) equal to Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) equal to Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)
Trade-related Procurement equal to Agreement on Governmentt Procurement
Trade Facilitation equal to Trade Facilitation
Customs Operations equal to Customs Operation and Administration
Trade Promotion sum of
  • Export Promotion
  • Other Trade Facilitation
Enterprise Development sum of
  • Business Services and Training
  • E-commerce Development and Information Technologies
FTAs and Trade Integration equal to Regional Trade Agreements (RTA)
Trade-related Labor equal to Human Resources and Labor Standards
Financial Sector equal to Financial Sector Development and Good Governance
Trade-related Infrastructure equal to Physical Infrastructure Development
Environmental Standards and Trade equal to Environmental Trade and Standards
Competition Policy, Business Environment, and Governance sum of
  • Competition Policy and Foreign Investment
  • Governance/Transparency and Inter-Agency Coordination
Trade-related Agriculture equal to Trade-Related Agriculture
Trade-related Services equal to Services Trade Development
Trade-related Services (excluding tourism) equal to Other Services Development (not tourism)
Trade-related Tourism equal to Tourism Sector Development
Other Trade Capacity Building equal to Other TCB

Differences Between Data for FY1999–FY2001 and Data Beginning in FY2002 in this Database

The methods used to collect data for FY2002 on were broadly similar to the methods in the data collection exercise conducted during 2001. However, once the data for FY1999 through FY2001 had been analyzed, it was clear that some of the TCB categories were perhaps too broadly defined. For this reason, some of the categories were broken out into sub-groups, with funding data collected for each sub-group or component of the category.

The TCB category Trade Facilitation, for example, was disaggregated into six sub-categories:

Each of those six types of TCB assistance essentially function as new TCB categories in their own right. The sum of those six categories is equal to the single category for Trade Facilitation in the data for FY1999–FY2001. However, that level of detail is not available for the earlier years.

A similar decision was made with regard to the TCB categories Services Trade and WTO Awareness and Accession. They were broken out into their components: Tourism Sector Development and Other Services Development in the case of Services, and WTO Awareness and Participation in General and WTO Accession in the case of WTO Awareness and Accession. Their totals in FY2002 and later equal the corresponding line for FY1999–FY2001.

With respect to the category WTO Accession itself, a technical change in the data collection for FY02 probably had the effect of slightly decreasing the funding in that category and slightly increasing the funding for the category WTO Agreements. This technical change in the data collection had absolutely no impact on the measure of total TCB funding in any year. The only possible impact is with respect to the particular categories where funding was allocated.

Details on the Definition of  Developing Countries 

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 aid recipients 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. Countries such as these, although not currently classified as "developing" under the strict definition, are 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. For example, the USG supports trade capacity building among the CARICOM countries, of which the Bahamas is a member. Countries such as these are included in the TCB Database so that the data coverage will fully reflect USG assistance to different groups of developing countries.

Details on the Definition of Sub-Saharan Africa NS Regions

On May 16, 2005, the TCB database was revised to include two new Not Specified (NS) Regions, "Eastern and Central Africa ns" and "Southern Africa ns" to include TCB activities that cannot be classified to specific country, but are regional in scope. In order to add these new "ns region codes," while keeping the survey data consistent, all activities in the database from FY1999–FY2005 previously assigned to Sub-Saharan Africa ns were revised. Activities coded to Sub-Saharan Africa ns were either reallocated to Eastern Africa ns or Southern Africa ns.

Differences Between Data for FY1999–FY2001 in this Database, and an Earlier USG Report Released During Calendar Year 2000

Data in this database for FY1999–FY2001 were based on a survey of U.S. Government trade capacity building initiatives conducted during July to September 2001. It completely updated and expanded upon a similar survey conducted a little more than a year earlier in March and April 2000.

Both surveys covered the same set of the U.S. Government agencies and offices, including major branches and departments of the U.S. government based in Washington, D.C. and field offices and overseas missions of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). However, two important differences between the 2000 and 2001 survey are worth noting:

  1. In the 2001 survey, greater awareness and better planning resulted in a more comprehensive set of survey responses from agencies and overseas field missions than was the case in the 2000 effort. Responses from several offices were omitted from the 2000 report, as information was not received in time for publication.
  2. For the updated and expanded 2001 report, U.S. Government agencies were requested to provide funding information for all trade capacity building activities, regardless of the amount. For the 2000 report, agencies and missions were requested to report only major trade capacity building activities that involved funding of over US$1.0 million in any given year, FY1999 or FY2000.

These expanded reporting requirements resulted in a more complete picture of U.S. trade capacity building funding obligations in the 2001 report.

1. On May 3, 2002 the TCB Database was updated to include late survey submissions (for the FY1999–FY2001 data) that were received after the deadline for the publications. Therefore, the FY1999–FY2001 numbers in the database will not match the numbers in the summary or the main reports.
2. On April 1, 2004 the TCB Database was updated to include late survey submissions (for FY2003 data) that were received after the deadline for the publications. On November 1, 2004, the figures were further revised. Therefore, the FY2003 numbers in the database will not match the brochure.