A top U.N. trade official said suspended World Trade Organization trade talks hurt the poor and that it was imperative that they resume in order to avert a resurgence in protectionism.

The suspension of the talks hurts the world’s poorest most acutely,” UN Conference on Trade and Development Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi said at the 53rd annual UNCTAD in Geneva on Wednesday.

Panitchpakdi said that poor countries’ prospects for export-led growth have diminished following the suspension of trade talks. The main points of contention during the multi-lateral trade talks, which began in 2001, mostly concerned subsidies, tariffs and quotas which wealthy nations placed on their agricultural industries and the effect such measures had for poorer nations to compete in the market.

Earlier this week at the UNCTAD meeting, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged the world’s wealthy countries on Monday to go the extra mile to re-balance the rules of the trading system in favor of the poor.