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Countries & Regions

Customized Technical Assistance Provided at the Behest of U.S. Embassies

At the behest of U.S. embassies, CLDP has helped more than 50 foreign governments create legislative, regulatory, and judicial environments conducive to increased trade and investment.

Typically, CLDP's involvement begins with a request for technical assistance made by a foreign government to a U.S. embassy. Thereafter, CLDP works with the U.S. embassy and officials of the foreign government to develop a customized program of technical assistance that addresses the precise need of the requesting country. CLDP does so by taking into consideration the country’s specific characteristics and constraints. Because bringing about significant change takes time, CLDP programs are usually multi-year programs consisting of a sequence of phases, each of which builds upon previous results.

Three Main Types of Outcomes that Benefit Developing Countries

CLDP’s technical assistance programs have resulted in three main types of outcomes that have benefited developing and transitioning countries:

-Enhanced Trade and Investment

-Regional Harmonization

-Private Sector Development Through Entrepreneurship

Enhanced Trade and Investment


Over the years, CLDP has helped several countries make the reforms needed for them to accede to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Such reforms included government procurement, in compliance with the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), as well as enforcement of intellectual property rights, in compliance with Trade-Related Aspects of International Property Rights (TRIPS). After their accession to the WTO, several countries requested CLDP assistance to make further reforms in order to comply with the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), which includes provisions for the efficient exchange of goods and services.

For instance, since 2018, CLDP has conducted a Central America Trade Facilitation program, in close coordination with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration/Office of the Western Hemisphere.

This program has helped Northern Triangle countries (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) implement transparency initiatives, improve interagency coordination, and simplify customs clearance procedures. These changes strengthened trade ties among the countries, boosted regional integration through exports, and increased job creation. As a result of this program, Honduras and Guatemala were able to submit a TFA Article 1.4 Transparency Notification to the WTO, a notification that identifies relevant trade-related information across ministerial websites. In El Salvador, a key transparency initiative resulting from the program was the implementation of an online notice and comment platform to allow inclusive public consultation in the drafting of trade regulations. This platform also allows U.S. firms to have a say in the development of regulations that impact their exports to the country.

In all three Northern Triangle countries, the transparency measures adopted under the CLDP program lowered regulatory barriers, the costs of which are the equivalent of significant tariffs. This resulted, in all three countries, in lower costs for trade with the United States – a total of $1.4 billion in lower costs for U.S.-Salvador trade, of $357 million for U.S.-Guatemala trade, and of $257 million for U.S.-Honduras trade.

By promoting regional integration and creating economic opportunity in the Northern Triangle, this CLDP program addresses security, governance, and economic drivers of immigration and illicit trafficking, while increasing opportunities for U.S. businesses.


A key characteristic of developing countries is the high rate of growth of their population. This creates significant needs for investment in infrastructure (e.g., power plants and water treatment plants) to meet the needs of the growing population. Many developing or transitioning countries lack the capital and/or the technology needed to build these plants. It is therefore essential for these countries to be able to attract foreign direct investment.

CLDP has helped numerous countries create conditions required to attract foreign direct investment, through three main kinds of technical assistance programs:

- Programs to review and amend draft investment laws to ensure that they are consistent with best international practices. A good example is CLDP’s contribution to the Power Africa program, a contribution highlighted in the section above on U.S. Businesses.

- Programs to help develop alternative dispute resolution mechanisms such as arbitration or mediation, so that foreign investors know that, in case of dispute with local firms, local judges, who may be biased, will not decide the outcome of the dispute.

- Programs to build foreign countries’ capacity to engage in Public-Private Partnerships with foreign investors. In 2019-2020, CLDP conducted such programs for 11 developing countries: Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Vietnam, Timor-Leste, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, and Mali.

Regional Harmonization

Since 2000, CLDP has conducted programs that have been effective in fostering regional integration through harmonization of trade and customs, standards, intellectual property, and telecommunications policies. The first such program was launched as part of the Stability Pact that resulted from the Dayton Agreement that ended the war in the Balkans. This CLDP program involved seven countries, three of which had been at war with each other: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia-Montenegro. This program was effective in developing trade between these countries, thus reducing the risk of conflicts.

More recently, since 2016, CLDP has conducted a similar program in Central Asia. As part of CLDP’s effort to further the goals of the U.S.-Central Asia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement and the U.S. government’s New Silk Road initiative, CLDP has supported the development of Central Asia Regional Expert Working Groups on Customs, Standards, and Sanitary and Phytosanitary(SPS)  Measures. Five countries were initially members of the working groups: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. In recent years, they have often been joined by Afghanistan. In 2019, within the context of this program, CLDP helped launch a Central Asia Regional Expert Level Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights. CLDP and its interagency partners are helping the Central Asia countries overcome the deficiencies in intellectual property rights protections outlined in USTR’s Special 301 Report, starting with the areas of anti-counterfeiting and anti-piracy measures and practices.

Private Sector Development Through Entrepreneurship

The creation of private sector jobs has become a priority for a growing number of countries, in particular:

-Countries whose economies are dependent on hydrocarbons resources and realize that this is no longer sustainable in the long-term.

-Countries with high population growth and good public university systems, resulting in a high number of highly educated graduates and not enough jobs commensurate with their level of education.

These countries want to develop their private sector through entrepreneurship.

For the first group of countries with significant hydrocarbons resources, the primary objective is to identify and eliminate disincentives to entrepreneurship. Outdated insolvency laws, for example, penalize firms for going bankrupt and can deter the creation of new businesses. In response to requests from several countries to review these laws, CLDP conducted programs focused on reforming insolvency laws to more closely resemble the U.S. Chapter 11 model, which gives a second chance to firms that have encountered difficulties, but have not committed fraud. These programs were effective, in great part because several U.S. bankruptcy judges joined CLDP’s initiatives on a volunteer basis. As a result, modern bankruptcy laws have been enacted in countries such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait.

The second group of countries, capitalizing on their strong public universities, typically emphasize technology transfer from academia to industry, both to improve the productivity of existing firms and to serve as a basis for the creation of technology start-ups. CLDP has conducted technology transfer capacity building programs in several countries, including Armenia, Georgia, Sri Lanka, Morocco, and Tunisia. These programs have had two key components:

-A focus on the acquisition of practical skills, such as technology licensing, through simulated negotiations based upon fictional but realistic case studies created by CLDP, and

-The development of a toolkit of methodologies to help countries select technologies that are worth patenting, determine the value of these technologies, and decide whether to create viable start-ups.

CLDP has also helped form partnerships between U.S. universities adept at technology transfer and foreign universities. Based upon the results of one such partnership between a U.S. university and a Tunisian university, CLDP published a book in 2011 titled “Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Maghreb.”