Abe, Toyoda compare notes over dinner ahead of Trump summit

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda held talks in Tokyo Friday ahead of his summit with U.S. President Donald Trump next week, but neither divulged any details.

“We had a good talk . . . we exchanged views about the current state of things,” Toyoda told reporters after dinner with the prime minister, declining to elaborate.

Abe is expected to emphasize the contributions Japan’s automakers make to the U.S. economy during the Feb. 10 summit. Trump recently described Japan’s auto trade practices as “not fair.”

Before his inauguration on Jan. 20, Trump threatened on Twitter to impose a “big border tax” on Toyota if it goes ahead with a plan to build a factory in Mexico to supply the U.S. market with its mainstay Corolla.

At a news conference Thursday, Toyoda stated that his company “manufactures cars in the United States for the U.S. market.”

“It would be great if politics and businesses could complement each others’ strengths,” he added.

Last month, Toyoda said his company would $10 billion worth of capital investments in the United States over the next five years. Toyota’s North America chief executive claimed the move was not triggered by Trump’s remarks.

Toyota Motor is the top-selling Japanese automaker in the U.S. and keeps 10 of its roughly 50 global production bases there.

It has more than ¥320 billion ($2.8 billion) of investments planned for North America in the business year ending next month. It invested about ¥230 billion last year and a similar amount the year before.