Aid for Trade

Aid for Trade helps developing countries, and particularly least developed countries, trade. Many developing countries face a range of supply-side and trade-related infrastructure obstacles which constrains their ability to engage in international trade.

The WTO-led Aid-for-Trade Initiative encourages developing country governments and donors to recognize the role that trade can play in development. In particular, the initiative seeks to mobilize resources to address the trade-related constraints identified by developing and least-developed countries.


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Ministerial Declaration

At the Tenth Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, on 15-18 December 2015, ministers agreed the following text on Aid for Trade as part of the Ministerial Declaration:

“We recognize the importance of the Aid for Trade initiative in supporting developing country Members to build supply-side capacity and trade-related infrastructure and we shall accord priority to the LDCs’ needs. We take note of the outcomes of the WTO global reviews on Aid for Trade, in particular the Fifth Global Review, and recognize the continuing need for this initiative”.

Global Review of Aid for Trade

The purpose of the Global Review is to strengthen the monitoring and evaluation of Aid for Trade to provide a strong incentive to both donors and recipients for advancing the Aid for Trade agenda.

Aid for Trade work programme 

Activities under the Aid-for-Trade initiative are carried out on the basis of a biennial work programme. These work programmes promote deeper coherence among Aid for Trade partners and an on-going focus on Aid for Trade among the trade and development community, with the emphasis on showing results. Work programmes have generated impetus for Aid for Trade activities on the ground.

A new Aid-for-Trade Work Programme for 2023-2024 was issued on 10 February 2023 with the theme of “Partnerships for food security, digital connectivity, and mainstreaming trade”. Building on policy insights from previous Work Programmes and the 2022 Global Review, the Work Programme seeks to develop analysis across these three core thematic areas.  Supporting developing countries, including LDCs, in enhancing their agricultural and agribusiness productive and trade capacity is a focus area of the new Work Programme, with a view to promoting resilience and strengthening food security.  Participation in the digital economy is another key topic. The new Work Programme will build on past insights with respect to digital connectivity as a critical pathway to engaging in global trade, taking into account the specific challenges faced by developing countries, including LDCs. Another area of thematic focus is on “mainstreaming”  trade into their national development strategies with a view to identifying the opportunities for sustainable economic and export diversification, as well as supply chain resilience. Here the emphasis will be on how Aid for Trade can be mobilized by Aid-for-Trade stakeholders for such opportunities.

Role of the WTO 

The role of the WTO is to:

  • encourage additional flows of Aid for Trade from bilateral, regional and multilateral donors to support requests for trade-related capacity building from beneficiary countries

  • support improved ways of monitoring and evaluating the initiative

  • encourage mainstreaming of trade into national development strategies by partner countries.  

The Enhanced Integrated Framework is the main mechanism through which least-developed countries access Aid for Trade.

The Standards and Trade Development Facility maintains close contacts with the Aid for Trade initiative. It complements this global scheme through projects and monitoring of aid flows at an operational, issue-specific level.


The Aid for Trade initiative was launched at the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference in December 2005. In February 2006 the WTO established a Task Force, with the aim of “operationalizing” Aid for Trade.

The Task Force recommended in July 2006 that Aid for Trade should focus on identifying the needs within recipient countries, responding to donors and acting as a bridge between donors and developing countries. It also recommended the establishment of a monitoring body in the WTO, which would undertake a periodic global review based on reports from a variety of stakeholders.

Working in cooperation 

The WTO works in cooperation with, and encourages coordination among, a number of key players in the Aid for Trade initiative to take forward the Task Force recommendations. Key players include: the African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Inter-American Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank, International Trade Centre (ITC), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), World Bank, World Customs Organization, the Enhanced Integrated Framework, and the Standards and Trade Development Facility.


In 2007 the WTO’s Aid for Trade initiative moved into its first stage of implementing the 2006 recommendations of the Aid for Trade Task Force.

The WTO started by establishing a system of monitoring Aid for Trade at three levels:

  • global monitoring of overall Aid for Trade flows, based on work carried out by the OECD

  • monitoring the commitment of individual donors to provide additional Aid for Trade

  • monitoring how the needs of developing countries for additional Aid for Trade are being presented to, and met by, the international donor community, including the development banks.

A Symposium Identifying Indicators for Monitoring Aid for Trade was held on 15-16 September 2008.

Since the inception of the Aid for Trade initiative, four monitoring exercises have been undertaken, each with greater complexity and depth. Global Review events have also been held under the themes of "Maintaining Momentum" in 2009, "Showing Results" in 2011, and "Connecting to Value Chains" in 2013. At each event, the WTO and OECD issue a joint flagship report on "Aid for Trade at a Glance".

Regional reviews 

Working with its partner agencies, the WTO also encourages the holding of national and sub-regional Aid-for-Trade reviews to "road-test" Aid-for-Trade plans, identify priorities, and agree on how these plans and priorities should be implemented. These review events provide a platform to raise awareness of Aid for Trade, showcase "real-world" examples of Aid-for-Trade strategies in progress, and create incentives for other countries and sub-regions to follow. The results of these regional reviews are profiled in the Global Reviews of Aid for Trade.


Official documents on Aid for Trade 

Links to documents series: (WT/AFT/*) and (WT/COMTD/AFT/*)



Aid-for-Trade Global Review 2022


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