Doha Round talks are moving so slowly that it will be difficult to wrap up the global accord next year as G20 nations have pushed for, the head of the World Trade Organisation said on Friday.
"The reality is that at the pace at which these negotiations are going, it's going to be difficult to conclude these negotiations by 2010," Pascal Lamy said. "Whether we are on the eve of the conclusion of this round, this question remains open."
Addressing a meeting in Tanzania of trade ministers from least-developed countries (LDCs), Lamy acknowledged brewing frustration among those who expected to get assistance from the Doha agreement whose talks started eight years ago in Qatar.
"LDCs have been waiting, waiting for these negotiations to be concluded. This sort of impatience is understandable," the Frenchman said.
The world's poorest nations would not have to cut their tariffs and subsidies like leading economies do in a Doha deal - dubbed the development round. They would also get privileged access to rich markets for their exports from the accord.
Senior officials are due to meet in Geneva next week to look again for ways to advance the Doha talks toward agreement. The WTO is hosting a ministerial meeting at the end of November whose agenda has not yet been finalised.