Aid for trade

Aid-for-Trade statistical queries


Statistical queries l Methodology 

Aid-for-Trade queries


Through our QWIDS database, aid-for-trade statistics from 2002 onwards can be easily extracted and downloaded (i.e. volume, origin, and aid categories for over 150 developing countries and territories, including project-level information), based on the flows reported to the Creditor Reporting System (CRS).

Predefined Aid for Trade queries from 2012 to 2020. Previous years back to 2002 can be selected by modifying the Time Periode in the selection menu.


Methodology: how is aid for trade measured? 


In 2005, Aid for trade Task Force identified the following categories:

  • technical assistance for trade policy and regulations (e.g. helping countries to develop trade strategies, negotiate trade agreements, and implement their outcomes)
  • trade-related infrastructure (e.g. building roads, ports, and telecommunications networks to connect domestic markets to the global economy)
  • productive capacity building, including trade development (e.g. supporting the private sector to exploit their comparative advantages and diversify their exports)
  • trade-related adjustment (e.g. helping developing countries with the costs associated with trade liberalisation, such as tariff reductions, preference erosion, or declining terms of trade)
  • other trade-related needs, if identified as trade-related development priorities in partner countries' national development strategies

However, aid for trade data are extracted from the CRS aid activity database - an internationally recognised source of authoritative data on ODA and other official flows (OOF) to developing countries, dating back to 1967 - that provides data broken down geographically and by sector. Governments, organisations and researchers make frequent use of it, and for the OECD, the CRS serves as a tool for monitoring specific policy issues, including aid for trade.


Using an existing database helped effectively track aid-for-trade flows while saving time and resources. Although using the CRS does not provide information about trade-related technical assistance and trade development that is as detailed as that collected in the past in the joint OECD-WTO Trade Capacity Building Database (TCBD), several modifications have been made to the CRS to adapt it to aid-for-trade needs (i.e. a new CRS category "trade-related adjustment" was introduced from the 2008 data collection on 2007 activities). The CRS does not provide data that exactly match all of the above aid-for-trade categories. It provides proxies under the following five headings:


1. Technical assistance for trade policy and regulations  (pdf). In the CRS, five purpose codes are used to cover "trade policy and regulations" activities, in contrast to the 20 TCBD codes. These five sub-categories are: (a) trade policy and administrative management; (b) trade facilitation; (c) regional trade agreements; (d) multilateral trade negotiations; and, (e) trade education/training.


2. Economic infrastructure  (pdf). Aid commitments for trade-related infrastructure are proxied in the CRS by data under the heading "economic infrastructure". This heading covers data on aid for communications, energy, transport and storage. To know how close the CRS proxies are (e.g. how much of the hypothetical energy project relates to trade), the CRS data must be compared with donors' knowledge of the specific features of their infrastructure aid.


3. Productive capacity building (pdf) (including trade development). Data on commitments of aid for productive capacity building exist under the CRS category "building productive capacity". Since the first monitoring exercise, the CRS allows components of a productive capacity building project to be marked (using the "trade development policy marker") as relevant to trade development. It identifies trade development activities within the broader aid-for-trade category of building productive capacity (i.e. activities marked as contributing "principally" or "significantly" to trade development).


4. Trade-related adjustment (pdf). This category identifies contributions to developing country budgets to assist the implementation of trade reforms and adjustments to trade policy measures by other countries, and alleviate shortfalls in balance-of-payments due to changes in the world trading environment.


5. Other trade-related needs. The CRS covers all ODA, but only those activities reported under the above four categories will be identified as aid for trade. Data on "other trade-related needs" cannot be gleaned from the CRS. To estimate the volume of such 'other' commitments, donors would need to examine aid projects in sectors other than those considered so far - e.g. in health and education - and indicate what share, if any, of these activities have an important trade component. A health programme, for instance, might permit increased trade from localities where the disease burden was previously a constraint on trade. Consequently, accurately monitoring aid for trade would require comparison of the CRS data with donor and partner countries' self-assessments of their aid for trade.