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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.

See also:
> Cotton, including the sub-committee





News  back to top


Ministerial Decision on Aid for Trade

At the Ninth Ministerial Conference in December 2013, a Ministerial Decision on Aid for Trade was taken (WT/L/909). The decision reaffirmed WTO members' commitment to the initiative, recognizing the continuing need for Aid for Trade in developing countries, and in particular least-developed countries (LDCs).

> Ministerial Decision


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.

> Fifth Global Review 2015

> Fourth Global Review 2013

Third Global Review 2011

Second Global Review 2009

First Global Review 2007


Aid for Trade work programme  back to top

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

In line with the decision adopted by Ministers at the Ninth Ministerial Conference held in Bali in 2013 (WT/L/909), a Aid for Trade work programme has been developed which provides a framework for activities over the period 2014-2015.

The Aid for Trade Work Programme 2014-2015, issued on 7 May 2014, is based on the theme “reducing trade costs for inclusive, sustainable growth”. In support of implementation of the Bali Package (together with existing WTO Agreements), the ongoing work to connect developing countries and LDCs to value chains, and in the context of the emerging post-2015 development agenda and associated goals, the Work Programme's key areas of focus include: value chains, monitoring and evaluation, private sector development, infrastructure development, and regional trade integration. Work Programme activities will culminate in a Fifth Global Review of Aid for Trade tentatively programmed for mid-2015.


Role of the WTO  back to top

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.

Fact sheet on Aid for Trade
> Presentation — Aid for Trade: why, what and how?



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  back to top

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.


Implementation/monitoring  back to top

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  back to top

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.

Regional Reviews 2009
Regional Reviews 2007


Events  back to top


Official documents on Aid for Trade  back to top

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

 New publications

> Connecting Least-Developed countries to value chains

> Aid for Trade at a Glance 2013

> Aid for Trade at a Glance 2013 (Pocket Edition)


> Aid for Trade in Action

OECD Insights:

Who listens to policy advice, and what happens when they do?


 Sector Studies

Aid for Trade and Value Chains in Agrifood


Aid for Trade and Value Chains in Information and Communication Technology


Aid for Trade and Value Chains in Textiles and Apparel


Aid for Trade and Value Chains in Tourism


Aid for Trade and Value Chains in Transport and Logistics


> Measuring the Impact of the Global Agenda of Aid for TradeBy Pascal Lamy

> India Africa: South-South Trade and investment for development

> Connecting to Global Value Chains and Aid for Trade by Islamic Development Bank

> Aid for Trade in Asia and the Pacific: Driving Private Sector Participation in GVCs by the Asian Development Bank

> Building Trade Capacities for Africa’s Transformation by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa