May 25, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Trump needles Toyota's top executive at Japanese state event

President Trump getting ready to board Air Force One

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

During President Trump's weekend trip to Japan, he was quick to single out Akio Toyoda, president of the Toyota Motor Corp., saying: "There's nothing like the boss," at a formal dinner with auto industry leaders, reports Bloomberg.

Why it matters: After Trump threatened to levy auto tariffs against Japan and the European Union, Toyota released a statement countering Trump's claims that foreign automakers pose problems for American national security, saying: it "sends a message to Toyota that our investments are not welcomed, and the contributions from each of our employees across America are not valued."

The context: Trump declared that imported cars pose a threat to national security on May 17. He will delay the decision to impose tariffs on foreign cars for up to 6 months, Reuters reports.

"As you know, the United States and Japan are hard at work negotiating a bilateral trade agreement which will benefit both of our countries. I would say that Japan has had a substantial edge for many, many years. But that’s OK. Maybe that’s why you like us so much.”
— President Trump
  • The U.S. and Japan have been negotiating a bilateral trade agreement. Trump's said he hopes it benefits both countries since, "Japan has had a substantial edge for many, many years," per Bloomberg.
  • The talks started in 2018.
  • The White House has hinted that it would seek voluntary export quotas on cars from its trading partners. "This sparked anger from automakers, dealers and foreign governments" per Reuters.
  • Toyota said it would invest $13 billion in the U.S., but changes to the status quo would be a "major set-back for American consumers, workers and the auto industry," per Reuters.
  • European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem tweeted: "We note that US postpones decision on car tariffs for 180 days. But we completely reject the notion that our car exports are a national security threat. The EU is prepared to negotiate a limited trade agreement incl cars, but not WTO-illegal managed trade."

Go deeper: Trump wants to keep car tariffs in his back pocket

Go deeper