As senior officials congregated for a week-long 'stock-taking' Doha Development Agenda exercise in Geneva on Monday, it is officially acknowledged there is little or no progress in different dossiers of the languishing trade talks since July 2008.
Though it was not formally declared at the Doha trade negotiations committee meeting today, it is privately admitted that the 2010 deadline will not be achieved, several trade envoys and senior officials told Business Standard.
"I urge you to approach this week with serenity and determination, as well as the unity of purpose which will allow us to take the next steps towards concluding the Doha Round," World Trade Organization Director-General Pascal Lamy told participants.
Lamy, however, remained silent on when the Doha Round would be concluded.
"If anything, the Doha Round will not be concluded until 2013," said a senior Asian trade official, suggesting developing countries could not afford to place their negotiating cards on the table when the United States was not ready to reciprocate.
"There has to be a multilateral process to identify the gaps as well as the need to start addressing gateway issues in Doha agriculture, industrial goods and services," India's trade envoy Ujal Singh Bhatia told reporters.
"The signal that we are able to send from this week, this stocktaking, will be closely watched by a broader world community, not just by trade negotiators," said Pascal Lamy.
The chairs for different Doha negotiating bodies who presented their respective reports suggested that there is insufficient progress during the last two years.
Indonesia, which is the coordinator for the G-33 coalition that includes India and China, among others, said the Doha Round must fulfil its mandate to enable developing countries to address their food and livelihood security as well as rural development needs.
What is important at this juncture is a candid admission of what is feasible in DDA this year and how to proceed in the coming days and months, said a trade envoy of an industrialised country.
He suggested that the time has come to prepare the ground for focused work through some 'out of box ideas'.
The director-general should not attempt another ministerial meeting with any select group of members next month or at the annual Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ministerial in May, the envoy said.
He added that it would be more important to report on the current situations directly to Group-of-20 leaders when they meet in June.
There will be several meetings this week, including luncheon and dinner sessions.