The head of New Zealand's business delegation to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Singapore says world trade talks could drag on until 2012.
Tony Nowell says the gap between the United States and developing countries on trade makes it unlikely the Doha round of talks will be finished by the end of 2010.
He says that gives a free trade region spanning Asia and the Pacific more urgency.
Mr Nowell says the proposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which includes the US and New Zealand, is one way this could be achieved.
Negotiations over the eight country-trading bloc stalled in March, but Mr Nowell says he expects US President Barack Obama to recommit to the partnership this week.