Eero Heinaluoma, the Finnish finance minister, said on Saturday after hosting a meeting with his EU counterparts: "We deeply regret the suspension of the Doha development round last July. This can have negative effects on world trade and this is something that we were worried about,"

"The negotiations ought to be restarted as soon as possible, all key participants must take the necessary action to secure a strong outcome [and] the European Union must be firmly committed to play its role," he added.

Five years of talks at the WTO ground to a halt in July after negotiators failed to hammer out the framework for an agreement.

The current Doha round of trade talks, which opened in the Qatari capital in 2001, was aimed at removing agricultural and industrial trade barriers and using commerce to give developing countries a boost.

It was meant to yield a trade treaty by the end of 2004; but the target was later shifted to December 2006.

Peter Mandelson, the EU Trade Commissioner, said last week in Strasbourg that talks were unlikely to be revived before mid-term US Congressional elections in November.