Business / Corporate

Japan auto association chief says outlook bleak amid U.S.-China trade spat

Kyodo

The head of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said Monday that the outlook for the industry is cloudy due to “too many uncertainties” in the global economy amid the escalating trade fight between the United States and China.

“It is true that protectionist ideas are spreading,” Akio Toyoda, also president of Toyota Motor Corp., told a news conference in Tokyo as the United States’ tit-for-tat trade war with China spurs concerns about its potential impact on the global economy and financial markets.

“There is a thick layer of cloud and we still cannot see sunshine,” Toyoda said.

The Trump administration stepped up pressure on China on Friday by raising tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25 percent from 10 percent and threatening to hike tariffs on all remaining Chinese imports if no deal is struck. Beijing responded by pledging to take “necessary countermeasures.”

The U.S. and China have been the top two markets helping the Japanese auto industry to sustain its growth over the past 30 years as the domestic market has shrunk, Toyoda said.

The Japanese auto industry is also bracing for the outcome of trade talks between Tokyo and Washington in which Japan’s automobile exports to the United States is a key issue.