After
a more-bark-than-bite approach to trade during his first year in
office, President Donald Trump took on the world in 2018 and shows no
sign of letting up. In Europe, British Prime Minister Theresa May has so
far failed to convince Parliament to accept the Brexit deal she
negotiated with Brussels. And under the radar, the World Trade
Organization is facing paralysis if there is no compromise on how to
reform its system of settling disputes. These are among the ongoing
challenges that are likely to make 2019 another unsettling year for
global trade. 

Even
before the calendar turned to 2019, the salvaged Trans-Pacific
Partnership, renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific
Partnership, or CPTPP, went into effect for the first six countries to
ratify it. That means American farmers, already under pressure from
Trump’s trade war with China, now face a competitive disadvantage in
another major market because of Trump’s withdrawal from the TPP. With
the CPTPP’s implementation, Japan must reduce its
tariffs on beef, pork and other agricultural imports, mainly to the
benefit of Australia, Canada, Mexico and New Zealand. The breadth and
size of the disadvantage facing American farmers will grow as more
countries ratify the CPTPP and phase in the deal’s sizable tariff cuts
that are not available to U.S. exporters.