The United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) is the government agency charged with advancing economic development and US commercial interests in developing and middle income countries. Ned Cabot heads the Central and Eastern European department.
USTDA funds various forms of technical assistance, feasibility studies, training, orientation visits and business workshops that support the development of infrastructure. It uses foreign assistance funds to promote sound investment policy and decision-making in host countries, aims to create an enabling environment for trade, investment and sustainable economic development. According to Ned, Eastern Europe is possibly the fastest-growing region of the world and the region might also be the most consistent performer. "Every country in the region is growing," he stated. "The Baltic countries are growing at six to seven percent a year now, even Romania is doing four or five".
Despite the rapid growth in the region, since the end of communism in the late 1990s, there are a number of political obstacles that lay ahead of the development of some countries. Corruption is a major challenge, and one in which technology can play a part in reducing. Ned cited smart-card payment technology as an example of "investments associated with operating government services in a corrupt environment".
During his time at USTDA, Ned has held a number of posts. He served as both Director of Congressional Relations and as Export Director. He worked at the TDA’s lead representative on Capitol Hill, where he supported the development of Congressional budgetary support. Ned joined the USTDA eleven years ago, after a career that has included work in New York and Germany advising US companies interested in exporting to Europe and Latin America. As a management consultant he has also supported such clients as the World Wildlife Fund, the National Geographic Society, and Catholic Charities USA. He studied at Oberlin College, Ohio, USA, and graduated with an MA in International Political Economy from the Braunschweig University in Braunschweig, Germany.
The future work of the USTDA in Eastern Europe will support those countries seeking future entry to the European Union, as well as supporting the development of those ten new member states that acceded in May 2004. "Membership in the EU drives absolutely everything in the region", Ned asserted.