150 International Affairs:Eliminate the U.S. Trade and Development Agency

Savings in Millions of Dollars
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021
  • 2022
  • 2023
  • 2024
  • 2025
  • 2016-2020
  • 2016-2025


Savings are expressed as budget authority and were calculated by using the FY 2014 estimated spending levels as found on page 23 of U.S. Department of State, “Fiscal Year 2015, Congressional Budget Justification: Foreign Operations, Appendix 2” This estimated level has been increased at the same rate as discretionary spending in the CBO’s most recent August 2014 baseline spending projections.


Technical Notes on Scoring

CBO Baseline

Unless otherwise noted, calculations for savings for each recommendation relies on the most recent Congressional Budget Office baseline, as found in “An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024,” published August 27, 2014, has been used.

Savings “Totals”

While totals for the five and 10 year savings are provided by section and for the complete set of recommendations, there are two reasons they should not be viewed as representing total savings for The Budget Book.

First, as noted in the introduction, The Heritage Foundation would recommend that the savings realized in the Function 050 Defense section would stay within the Department of Defense to strengthen the nation’s defense capabilities.

Second, the numbers cannot be deemed to represent the realized savings if every single recommendation were adopted because policy changes made in one program can impact spending levels in other programs.  Thus, the numbers in the table do not reflect any potential interactions between the various policy changes affecting spending or savings.


Heritage Recommendation:

End funding for the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA). This proposal saves $56 million in 2016, and $594 million over 10 years.


Only 36 percent success rate? US Trade and Dev should be cut, saving $50 million a year.

The USTDA is intended to “help companies create U.S. jobs through the export of U.S. goods and services for priority development projects in emerging economies. The USTDA links U.S. businesses to export opportunities by funding project planning activities, pilot projects, and reverse trade missions while creating sustainable infrastructure and economic growth in partner countries.”

The main argument against this program is that its activities more properly belong to the private sector. The best way to promote trade and development is to reduce trade barriers. The House Republican Study Committee has introduced legislation to eliminate this agency, arguing:

The U.S. Trade and Development Agency has a dual mission of advancing internal economic development, as well as U.S. commercial interests in developing and middle-income countries. The Agency reports that of its 1,170 projects between 1997 and 2006, only 36.2% were actually successful in creating additional exports for American companies. The Agency’s activities also overlap with numerous other government agencies and programs. It works with 16 fellow agencies on the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee alone.

Only 36 percent success rate? US Trade and Dev should be cut, saving $50 million a year.

Contributing Expert

Bryan Riley is a full-time advocate for free trade through his research and writing for The Heritage Foundation. He brings years of experience in trade and economic issues to his role as Jay Van Andel senior analyst in trade policy.

See publications by Bryan Riley

Bryan RileyJay Van Andel Senior Policy Analyst in Trade Policy

Heritage Expert

James M. Roberts' primary responsibility as one of The Heritage Foundation's lead experts in economic freedom and growth is to edit the Rule of Law and Monetary Freedom sections of Index of Economic Freedom. An influential annual analysis of the economic climate of countries throughout the world, the Index is co-published by Heritage and The Wall Street Journal.

See publications by James M. Roberts

James M. RobertsResearch Fellow For Economic Freedom and Growth

Additional Reading