Support for projects intended to help poor countries expand their participation in global trade continues to be solid, with low income countries garnering the most support on a per-capita basis, new figures show.

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), US$342bn in aid for trade support has been disbursed since the start of the initiative in 2006. Sectors receiving the most support were transport and storage ($95bn), energy generation and supply ($75bn) and agriculture, fisheries and forestry ($71bn).

Aggregate aid commitments reached a peak of around $55bn in 2015 before slipping slightly to $51bn in 2016. This was still well above the long-term average, with support for trade-related infrastructure and productive capacity registering strong growth since the early 2000s, World Trade Organization (WTO) members were told at an Aid for Trade update this week.

In absolute terms, Asia and Africa are the largest aid for trade recipients. Most of this support took the form of loans rather than grants.  Overall, most financing for development is increasingly through private market finance, with upper middle income countries the biggest recipients.

In regards to official development assistance (ODA), the share of aid for trade in sector-allocable ODA continues to steadily increase and now accounts for nearly 40% of the total.

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

The World Bank Group (WBG) is the largest multilateral provider of Aid for Trade. Its support in Cambodia, for example, has resulted in reforms that improve transparency and strengthen coordination among border agencies. The country cut border clearance times from six days to 1.4 days over just a few years, climbing more than 40 places in the Bank's Logistics Performance Index. This supported Cambodia's growing export competitiveness in manufacturing, especially in the garment sector, where 85% of the workforce is female.

The theme of the current Aid for Trade work programme is 'Supporting Economic Diversification and Empowerment for Inclusive, Sustainable Development through Aid for Trade'.

WTO members have a substantive and detailed set of activities and outcomes to deliver, including the organisation of workshops, delivering the next Global Review of Aid for Trade in mid-2019, and conducting a review of Aid-for-Trade achievements.