In an interview with the Associated Press, WTO Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi said the organization's 148 members cannot afford to miss more deadlines and must step up talks if they want to seal the wide-ranging accord by 2006.
"I'm getting to be less optimistic," he said. "I'm seeing that we're going to have a really hard time ... with nearly everything up in the air."
The plan when talks began in 2001 was to finish the treaty by the end of 2004. But a WTO conference in Cancun, Mexico, in 2003 collapsed amid bickering over investment rules between rich and poor countries, as well as differences on agriculture.