Eleven countries representing about a quarter of the world economy started off the new year with a massive trade deal. The new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is officially in effect without the United States.
The deal includes: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
The U.S. was a large contributor to the formation of the trade deal; however, President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal soon after taking office.
Since then, the U.S. has pursued a bilateral trade deal with Japan, the largest member of TPP.
USDA Under Secretary of Trade and Foreign Agriculture Affairs Ted McKinney says he wouldn't be surprised if Japan and the United States picked up language in the TPP. But trusts the process will end with a win-win situation.
McKinney says, "I'm optimistic about Japan. It won't be easy. Not withstanding how much we love them. There's still a lot of protectionism there in Japan. But we will work through that much like we've worked so many issues."
The office of Trade Representative has also opened up negotiations with the United Kingdom, and the European Union (EU).
For the EU in particular, there is opportunity for agriculture. As the second largest collection of economies in the world, the U.S. surpassed Brazil as its number one soybean supplier in 2018.
McKinney says he's excited the EU wants to negotiate, but there are differences that need to be overcome, "It's going to be extremely, extremely difficult. Our friends in Europe are as protectionist as any I've found. I think they hide behind a regulatory system thinking they're safer than thou."