US pushing a bilateral deal with JApan

Shawn Donnan and Demetri Sevastoulo, reporting for Financial Times

The intervention came ahead of a visit to Japan this week by Mr Ross and vice-president Mike Pence for talks aimed partly at convincing Tokyo to open negotiations over a bilateral trade deal following the US withdrawal from the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership.

. . .

He said the “exploratory trip” to Japan was intended to see if Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who visited the US in February, would agree on a “path forward” for a bilateral agreement. “The question will be whether they are ready to consider the concept,” he said.

He acknowledged that Mr Abe had expended significant political capital on the TPP but he derided efforts to revive the agreement. “It doesn’t make that much sense to do a TPP without the US. We’re the biggest market after all,” he said. “And I think you folks are aware there is no political will in the US for a new TPP.”

Any bilateral agreement with Japan would have to see Tokyo add to the concessions it made in the TPP, which he characterised as “minor gains” for the US in agriculture and intellectual property, and he said the US would not accept anything less.

“A card laid is a card played. And even though that hand [the TPP] is cancelled, somebody has put something on the table in writing that is an agreed thing,” he said. “It will be our intention to make it very hard for them to go back.”

That's why you don't usually like to negotiate with someone who is inclined to withdraw from the deal reached.