World Trade Organisation chief Pascal Lamy said on Saturday he was increasingly inclined to invite ministers to Geneva to seek a deal in the Doha round, but would wait until next week to decide.
"I have not yet made a determination but the answer should be reasonably clear by the end of next week," he said.
US President George Bush and other leaders have been pushing for a breakthrough this year in the global free trade talks, known as the Doha round, as a way to bolster the troubled world economy.
Leaders at the APEC meeting of 21 economies including New Zealand, that took place in Peru last week, promised to send their trade ministers to Geneva before Christmas to try to restart the Doha trade round.
The WTO director-general said on Saturday recent discussions had given him encouragement that a ministerial push for a deal could succeed.
Mr Lamy said it would be risky to convene a ministerial meeting unless the WTO's 153 member governments are ready to make the compromises needed to finally clinch agreement in the delicate negotiations.
"Convening a meeting that will fail is a risk. Not convening a meeting, waiting for some time ... is also taking a risk. I have not yet made a determination but the answer should be reasonably clear by the end of next week."
A Doha-round agreement would cut subsidies and tariffs on thousands of exported goods and cross-border services, prying open food, fuel, transportation and other markets and therefore encouraging global economic activity.
But previous efforts to wrap up the deal, which requires full consensus among all the negotiating parties, have stalled on many countries' resistance to exposing their farmers and key industrial sectors to more competition.