Yesterday the European Commission submitted a proposal to EU member states to commence negotiations for a FTA with Japan. The announcement said "Priority in the negotiations will be the elimination of non-tariff barriers to trade on the Japanese market, as well as access to Japan's public procurement market." Most (all--are there any exceptions?) NTBs, if removed pursuant to an FTA, would have to be removed multilaterally under the WTO's MFN rule. Indeed, Japan and the EU are both parties to the WTO Government Procurement Agreement, which also contains an MFN obligation. So, why are these negotiations bilateral, when the other trading partners of Japan and the EU will be able to free ride on the liberalization?