Japan auto lobby dismayed as Trump declares some imports security threat

Toyota and Suzuki

Japan’s automakers’ lobby stated on Tuesday that it was dismayed by the US President Donald Trump’s declaration that some imported vehicles and parts posed a threat to U.S. national security, as the industry braces for a potential increase in U.S. tariffs.

Trump made the unprecedented designation of foreign automobiles on Friday but delayed for up to six months a decision if the US should impose tariffs to permit more time for trade talks with Japan and the European Union.

“We are dismayed to hear a message suggesting that our long-time contributions of investment and employment in the United States are not welcomed,” stated Akio Toyoda, chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.

“As chairman, I am deeply saddened by this decision,” Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corp, stated.

Trump has threatened to put tariffs of up to 25% on imported cars built by foreign automakers, a move which automakers have debated would ramp up car cost, curb the global competitiveness of U.S.-made vehicles and limit investment in the nation, the world’s No. 2 auto market.

The United States is an important market for Toyota, Nissan Motor, Honda Motor and other Japanese automakers. Autos and components are among the Asian nation’s biggest export products.

Majority of Japan’s major automakers run plants in the United States. At least half of the cars and trucks sold in the nation by Japan’s top three automakers are made in the United States.

Major automakers have declared a slew of investments in the United States since Trump took office in January 2017 and add pressure on the industry to generate more U.S. jobs.

For its part, Toyota has vowed to invest almost $13 billion in the United States between 2017 and 2021 to increase manufacturing capacity and jobs.

This consists of $1.6 billion for a vehicle assembly plant in Alabama jointly operated with Mazda Motor.

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