Business

Japanese auto industry highlights its U.S. investments as Trump trade fears grow

Kyodo

The nation’s top auto industry body stressed Wednesday the Japanese automakers’ contribution to the United States in creating jobs and investment, in an apparent move to deflect criticism from U.S. President Donald Trump, who has said he wants Tokyo to open up its market.

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, headed by Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda, said in a report that the nation’s automakers directly hired 92,710 employees as of 2017, more than triple the 28,571 taken on in 1990. It also said that cumulative investment amounted to $48.3 billion last year, up from $6.2 billion in 1990.

The report, based on data by Toyota and other carmakers, including Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co., said of the 92,710, 65,526 are employed in manufacturing, 5,759 in research and development and design, while 21,425 are in sales or working at company headquarters.

Domestic automakers remain wary that Trump may step up pressure in demanding more imports of U.S. automobiles. The White House has repeatedly accused Japan of maintaining nontariff barriers for its automobile market.

They are also concerned about Trump’s recent launch of a national security investigation into imports of automobiles, a move that could result in fresh tariffs.

The first round of a new bilateral dialogue on trade and investment, led by economic and fiscal policy minister Toshimitsu Motegi, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, is set to begin next month. It is expected to focus on what kind of demands the United States will make.

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