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.
Simon Evenett is a professor of international trade and economic development at the University of St. Gallen and the coordinator of Global Trade Alert, the independent trade policy monitor.