The head of a United Nations (UN) agency has appealed for the 'Doha Round' of trade talks to be reopened as soon possible to help open up industrialised nations' markets to agricultural and other exports from poorer states.

"The suspension of the talks hurts the world's poorest most acutely," UN Conference on Trade and Development Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi said.

Addressing the organisation's governing body in Geneva, Supachai said: "Countries' prospects for export-led growth and development have diminished with the suspension of the Doha Round.

"The distortions caused by subsidies in world agricultural trade will persist at the current level, thereby jeopardising the prospects of developing countries to generate additional export revenue and income from agricultural exports, including cotton."

Doha Round talks have been in limbo for months, partly because of differences on the matter of subsidies from wealthy nations to their agricultural industries, tariffs and quotas, which all shut poorer agricultural countries out of the market.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called on the world's wealthy countries to push ahead with Doha negotiations and to "go the extra mile" to re-balance the trading system in favour of the poor.

"I join developing and least developed countries in calling for the round to resume as soon as possible," he said in a message to the World Trade Organization Public Forum in Geneva.