President Donald Trump may have long promoted his reputation as a deal-maker, but the chances of landing a bilateral trade deal with Japan appear slim at best, analysts said.
Trade is likely to be on the agenda as Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meet on Friday and Saturday at the White House and at the president's Florida country club, Mar-a-Lago.
Abe's visit follows Trump's decision last month to formally pull the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would have created a 12-country Pacific rim free-trade bloc, including Japan. The TPP, which was negotiated during President Barack Obama's term in office, hadn't yet been voted on or ratified by Congress.
Trump has also recently claimed, with little evidence, that Japan has been manipulating its currency for trade advantage. The U.S. leader has also complained about his country's trade deficit with Japan, pointing particularly to an imbalance in auto sales: Japan exports more than a million cars to the U.S. annually, while the U.S. sells a little more than 10,000 vehicles a year in Japan.
But while the multilateral TPP may never be revived, Trump's stated preference for bilateral deals will struggle to gain too much traction with Japan.
Some analysts were skeptical that Abe would be quick to enter talks on a bilateral deal.
Tobias Harris, an analyst at Teneo Intelligence, told CNBC's "The Rundown" on Friday that Abe was more likely to try to "contain" trade issues.
"[Abe] can't just give and give and give a blank check to Trump," Harris said.
Abe needs to know "just how different a Trump vision for a bilateral free-trade agreement would be from the agreement the U.S. and Japan reached within TPP," Harris said. "I think Abe needs to get much more information on these issues before he can commit to really throwing Japan into bilateral negotiations."
Other analysts agreed.