U.S. Trade and Development Agency
The share of the U.S. economy driven by exports has risen steadily over the long term to over 10%. Current U.S. exporters continue to expand their existing overseas markets and more and more firms are exploring opportunities outside of our borders.
The U.S. government works aggressively to help companies with their efforts to explore, enter and develop foreign markets successfully. The U.S. Department of Commerce provides a domestic and international network of resources promoting trade and supporting exporters. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (transitioning to the International Development Finance Corporation by 2020) provides grants, loans, loan guarantees and political risk insurance in support of development and diplomatic goals and investors and exporters. The Export-Import Bank of the United States provides export transaction financing.
A smaller entity, the U.S. Trade & Development Agency, provides grant financing for feasibility studies, technical assistance and pilot projects that support future U.S. exports. USTDA operates in lower and middle-income countries. Public and private foreign project sponsors may apply for USTDA support as well as U.S. firms. USTDA grants have historically been provided in a range between a half to a million and a half dollars. Over 80% of USTDA grant funds are made in support of energy, transportation and information and communications technology initiatives with the balance going towards activities in the healthcare, water and environment and agriculture domains. USTDA historically has heavily supported initiatives with the potential to create hard exports, especially exports of complex high-value capital goods. They will consider support for activities generating service exports or U.S. foreign direct investment in eligible countries. From start to finish obtaining USTDA grant funds can take as long as a year.
Seneca has been a contractor to USTDA for over a decade. Our typical role has been to support the agency by performing due diligence on proposals received for grant-funded activities. As part of this we travel to the host countries and work directly with local sponsors to bring their proposals to a level of development enabling USTDA to make their formal funding decision. We primarily support USTDA activities in the transport sector and have performed multiple missions to Mexico as well as to places like Egypt, Morocco, Kazakhstan, Romania and Azerbaijan.
We encourage you to contact us if you wish to explore USTDA support for your export initiative. We are able to provide experienced guidance on what does and does not constitute a funding proposal that will be eligible and of interest to the U.S. government. Seneca’s lead for USTDA work, Richard Sherman, is proficient in Spanish. Beyond USTDA and U.S. export promotion work, Seneca has extensive experience providing a range of consulting services to public and private transport sector clients across the world.