Global trade contracted by about 12 percent in 2009 but has started to pick up, the head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) said on Wednesday.

WTO Director General Pascal Lamy said the Organization had revised its previous estimate of a contraction of about 10 percent in 2009 but gave no forecast for 2010.

World trade has also been a casualty of this (global economic) crisis, contracting ... by about 12 percent in 2009, Lamy said during a visit to Brussels, calling it a huge drop and the sharpest decline since the end of World War Two.

Asked about world trade in 2010, he declined to give any figure but said:

Certainly there is a pick-up. Whether this pick-up is short term ... or whether this is sustainable ... is difficult to say but we certainly are picking up.

Lamy told a meeting organized by the European Policy Center think-tank that opening global trade offered a way out of the crisis and that it was economically imperative to conclude the Doha round of talks on a new global commerce pact.

He caused gloom at the WTO this week by saying there were too many gaps and uncertainties in negotiations to bring in ministers at the end of March to take stock of whether the eight-year-old trade round can be concluded this year.