World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Pascal Lamy said on Wednesday he did not expect any breakthrough of the Doha Round trade liberalization talks before the end of this year.
"I don't expect a major development before the end of this year," Lamy told a press conference at the WTO headquarters here.
The Doha Round global trade negotiations have went through many setbacks and missed quite a few deadlines for conclusion since its launch in the Qatari capital in 2001.
Despite intensified talks in Geneva since September, the WTO's 151 members are still deadlocked over the cutting of agricultural subsidies, tariffs by developed countries and industrial tariffs by developing ones.
But Lamy still expressed optimism that a compromise could be reached in 2008, despite concerns that upcoming U.S. presidential elections could further complicate the WTO talks.
The WTO chief was speaking to reporters following a two-day global review of the Aid for Trade program, which was launched at the WTO ministerial meeting in China's Hong Kong in 2005, with an aim to help poor countries enhance trade capacity.
Lamy said the WTO's core business is to promote multilateral trade opening and build trade rules to ensure a level playing field.
But to make sure that poor countries fully benefit from trade opening, rich countries and international agencies need to increase aid to them to enhance their trade capacity, which includes the right domestic policy framework, institutional capacity and economic infrastructure, he said.