BERLIN -- At 7 a.m., I am not ready for the Brave New World of international trade. But there it is on the breakfast table, in the form of a box of Malted Shreddies, barking at me in red letters and four languages.

Vokoren Ontbijt Met Moot, the box gruffly advises in Dutch. Petit Dejeuner au Ble Entier et au Malt, the prissier French version murmurs. German and the Queen's English also convey the message that this is the breakfast all of Europe should be eating at this moment.

Not all that long ago, "Malted Shreddies" would surely have been sufficient. Export markets were organized around language and culture, with colonialism ensuring that trade followed certain easily plowed furrows. Market shelves in Kensington and Kenya were part of one culture, stores in France and Senegal another.

The Common Market has changed this pattern dramatically, and exporters now routinely turn out polyglot wares as new trading empires leapfrog across national and cultural boundaries. Buy a portable hair dryer or a refrigerator in Europe today, and you get a multilingual customer instruction booklet that looks as if it has been designed by the United Nations.

This attention to the detail of language, culture and local marketing habits by America's trading rivals helps explain why the dollar's sharp fall has not done more to resolve the American trade dilemma. Nations running up trade surpluses have acquired and institutionalized habits American firms still tend to ignore in selling abroad.

A mutation has occurred in the international trade system that the United States organized in its own image after World War II and dominated for 40 years. Skill and foresight have replaced raw power in the development of markets.

America's industrial might and technological superiority underpinned Washington's decision to reject the proposal of an International Trade Organization to complement the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. In supporting the Marshall Plan and free economic zones, the United States was doing well by doing good.

In the Reagan years, however, the system somehow lurched out of American control and has suddenly come to resemble a Frankenstein's monster that threatens to smother its creator under trade deficits.

Japan, West Germany and a few other nations have pursued trade advantage with singlemindedness and skill, adjusting quickly to the new environment created by the dispersion of technology, the creation of global security markets and the ability of multinational firms to shift manufacturing facilities rapidly to lower-wage countries.

"The Japanese ambassador here would not bother Tokyo with a cable if {Janos} Kadar died," an American diplomat in Budapest said with a touch of admiration in his voice recently. "But if a South Korean trade delegation shows up in town, the entire embassy will be up late into the night cabling the meaning of it."

Hungary is a good example of a country that is, for most American firms, not important enough to bother with. While the big Japanese trading houses have set up in Budapest and are now engineering seven-nation barter trades that bring them small profits but a stable position for the future, U.S. business has no significant representation.

The same is true in other points as diverse as Baghdad or Warsaw. U.S. trade with Iraq has doubled in the past 18 months, but Japanese trading houses handle the bulk of U.S. exports arriving in Iraq, U.S. Embassy statistics show. In Warsaw, the Japanese are patiently negotiating their way into an auto assembly plant that will produce no immediate profits but will provide a beachhead, they seem to hope, into the difficult West European market in the future.

Lilliputians can sneak into corners where Gulliver is too big to go, of course. But the continuing American trade problems are more serious than that. In the Reagan years the United States has come to be perceived abroad as an unreliable trading partner.

The unprecedented number of trade sanctions, from Nicaragua to South Africa, that the United States has imposed in six years reflects an outmoded economic egotism just as surely as does corporate America's unwillingness to work intensively on the ground abroad. So does Treasury Secretary James A. Baker's willingness to tear up G-7 monetary agreements when they become inconvenient for him.

Even at 7 a.m., the unwritten message on the Malted Shreddies box is loud and clear. It is a different trading world out there, America. Time to go to work.