In recent years, the bipolar multilateral trading system of the post-war years has given way to a multipolar alternative. Although many specifics have yet to be determined, some contours of this new trade policy landscape are coming into focus and in this short paper I examine their implications for the European Union's external commercial policy. Particular attention is given to both the state of business-government relations and the propensity to liberalize under the auspices of reciprocal trade agreements by Brazil, India and China - the potential new poles of the world trading system. I consider the likely consequences of these developments, plus factors internal to both the European Union and the United States, for the possible content of future multilateral trade initiatives.

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