Aid for Trade

Category: International Trade Sub-category: Globalisation
Document type: article


Aid for Trade

Aid for Trade aims to help developing countries, particularly least-developed countries, develop the trade-related skills and infrastructure that is needed to implement and benefit from WTO agreements and to expand their trade.

The success of the initiative depends on creating closer cooperation in national capitals between trade, finance and development officials of WTO member governments. This needs to be matched by close cooperation at the international and regional level among intergovernmental organizations with core responsibilities in these areas and their member governments.

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.

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


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 “operational zing” 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 an Advisory Group that the Director-General established in 2007 following the recommendations of the 2006 Aid-for-Trade Task Force. The main objective of the Advisory Group is to take forward the Task Force recommendations by encouraging coordination among the key players in the Aid for Trade initiative. The Advisory Group members are: the African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, IMF, Inter-American Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank, ITC, OECD, UNCTAD, UNDP, UNECA, UNIDO and the World Bank.

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.

September 2008: Symposium: Identifying Indicators for Monitoring Aid for Trade

Regional reviews

The WTO worked with the World Bank and the regional development banks to launch the first regional reviews of Aid for Trade, with the aim of encouraging recipients, donors and the private sector in each region to work together and to focus on specific challenges, to prioritize needs and to design deliverable business plans.

The regional reviews took place in autumn 2007:

  • in Lima, Peru, for the Latin America and Caribbean region
  • in Manila, the Philippines, for the Asia/Pacific region
  • and in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, for the Africa region.

Global review

In November 2007 the first Global Review and Annual Debate on Aid for Trade by the WTO's General Council took place, providing members with the opportunity to discuss the results of the WTO monitoring process and to provide political guidance on future work.


In February 2008 the Director-General's Aid for Trade Roadmap for 2008-09 was reviewed by the Committee on Trade and Development. The Roadmap, designed for the use of all stakeholders, is regularly updated to provide information on progress achieved in the different areas of the Aid-for-Trade initiative.