Japan auto lobby slams U.S. tariff threat ahead of trade talks







Toyoda: Potentially “adverse impacts” on the U.S. economy and jobs. Photo credit: REUTERS

TOKYO — Japan’s automakers association on Friday criticized moves by the United States to explore raising tariffs on Japanese auto exports, just as the two countries plan trade talks in July that may increase pressure on Tokyo to open up its markets.

Washington last month launched a national security investigation into car and truck imports which could lead to new tariffs on one of Japan’s major export products to the United States.

New tariffs on auto imports could raise costs for Japanese automakers doing business in the United States, the world’s No. 2 auto market. The probe follows a U.S. decision to slap new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Japan and other countries earlier this year.

“The investigation launched by the United States Department of Commerce to determine the effects on national security of imports of automobiles … will create uncertainty among automobile users in the U.S. and people involved in the motor vehicle industry,” Akio Toyoda, chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association and president of Toyota Motor Corp., said in a statement.

He said that if restrictions were implemented, they would raise vehicle prices and reduce available options, penalizing consumers. They could also seriously disrupt the plans of automakers, components makers and dealers, “with potentially adverse impacts on the U.S. economy and jobs.”

As trade tensions between the two countries heat up, U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday agreed to make preparations to hold trade meetings in July which will be based around a new framework focusing on bilateral trade, Japan’s foreign ministry said.

The talks will be led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Japan Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi.

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