WASHINGTON — The United States Trade and Development Agency will continue its mission to promote U.S. trade to emerging economies, but is taking note that some of the developing nations want more say in how their economies grow, which can benefit U.S. businesses, USTDA Director Leocadia Zak said Monday.
Speaking to business executives and scholars at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Zak said some of the trading partners in Asia and Africa “did not feel like they were getting a good bargain” because U.S. aid came with too many specific plans.
“People in these foreign markets want the tools to develop their own economies,” she said. The foreign countries push for more independence so they are not indebted to the U.S., she said.
Foreign countries are worried about “the humongous leverage from the monies” the USTDA programs bring, said Daniel Runde, director of the Project on Prosperity and Development.
The USTDA, whose goal is to assist foreign countries and help create U.S. jobs by exporting American goods in developing economies, generated more than $23 billion in exports, resulting in an estimated 110,000 U.S. jobs over the last 10 years, according to the USTDA website.
It develops new infrastructure in emerging markets through initiatives such as Power Africa, which works to increase access to electrical power in sub-Saharan Africa. Another initiative, Making Global Local, has attracted 34 business partners to export goods under the program.
The programs are implemented to help foreign countries reach their economic potential, creating a strong trade partnership with the United States, Zak said.
Zak said the USTDA focuses on energy, telecommunications and transportation programs in the development of countries such as India, China, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Throughout Asia, there are significant opportunities for development, especially in energy. “Last year alone the USTDA tripled its focus on energy and tripled its investment with respect to the region,” said Zak.
The USTDA also worked to improve efficiency of power distribution. In Nigeria, even though a sufficient amount of electrical power is generated, about 50 to 70 percent of it is lost during distribution, but U.S. businesses have helped limit the losses by using smart-grid technology, Zak said.