Industry minister Hiroshige Seko said Friday he will tour the U.S. Midwest next week in a bid to highlight Japanese automakers’ contributions to the U.S. economy.
Seko’s visit from Monday through Aug. 4 will coincide with the U.S. administration’s ongoing probe into automobile imports as Washington is considering imposing additional tariffs under President Donald Trump’s protectionist trade policy.
Seko will travel to Indiana, Ohio and Michigan, where Japanese automakers operate plants, to talk about the positive impacts of the firms on local investment and employment. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry noted that a visit to the region by its minister is highly unusual.
Japan and the United States are set to start new trade negotiations next month. Since May, the U.S. Commerce Department has been investigating whether imports of cars and parts pose a risk to national security.
Trump, under his “America First” policy, imposed steep tariffs on steel and aluminum in March and there is speculation he could take a similar move against autos before the country’s midterm elections in November.
Seko said he welcomes the United States and the European Union’s recent efforts toward free trade. The parties agreed to remove tariffs on industrial products, excluding the auto sector, at a summit Wednesday.