AfT assists developing countries, especially LDCs, in engaging with global markets by strengthening their trade capacity and trade-related infrastructures. With the Brussels Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010, a comprehensive set of commitments spearheaded by the UN aiming to eradicate poverty in LDCs ensured that AfT became a crucial component of Official Development Assistance (ODA). The Brussels Programme recalled the difficulties faced by LDCs as well as the measures necessary to reintegrate marginalized countries into the multilateral trading system. It committed both development partners and LDCs to a series of actions aimed towards trade integration. Support to LDCs mainly consisted of financial aid, technical assistance and simplified access to developed country markets. Overall AfT commitments have amounted to US$66 billion for the period 2001‑2011.
Similarly, the WTO declared "technical cooperation and capacity building" with regard to developing capacities for least-developed and low-income countries as a priority for the Doha Round. At the Sixth Session of its Ministerial Conference held in Hong Kong in December of 2005, the WTO reaffirmed its intention to take on an important role in this area by launching the AfT Initiative. As a result of this Initiative, which involved not only the WTO but also other organizations, donor contributions increased further, and an annual event, the Global Review of Aid for Trade, was created.
The progress of AfT towards its desired results is assessed by a joint WTO-OECD monitoring and evaluation framework. This framework annually publishes a report of Aid for Trade at a Glance. Another report by this framework, focusing on LDCs, concluded in 2011 that there had been a "steady, if hard-won progress" in achieving AfT results. It also showcased success stories such as that of Cabo Verde, which graduated from the LDC list in 2008 with assistance notably from the EIF.