(BBC) – There’s no doubt about the big question that looms now for international trade officials.
It is: what can they expect next from the United States under President Trump?
For decades after the Second World War, the US was arguably the biggest cheerleader for the gradual liberalisation of trade that took place.
Now, the US is the principal cause of anxiety among supporters of that process.
President Trump’s approach to international commerce is assertive and confrontational, driven by an agenda described as economic nationalism.
It is a central element behind the escalating trade tension this week.
Some fear that this approach will undermine the system that has evolved in the last three-quarters of a century.