- President Donald Trump caused some confusion with remarks he made about Japanese automakers on the second day of his Asia trip.
- Trump said Japan’s manufacturers should build more cars in the US “instead of shipping them over.”
- Japanese car makers like Toyota, Honda, and Nissan already build millions of their best-selling vehicles in the US.
- The US president made similar comments about German automakers earlier this year, but many of those companies also have a large presence in the US already.
SYDNEY, Australia — President Donald Trump on the second day of his trip to Japan urged the country’s automakers to build more cars in the US “instead of shipping them over.”
At a gathering of US and Japanese business leaders in Tokyo on Monday, Trump lamented that “many millions of cars are sold by Japan into the United States, whereas virtually no cars go from the United States into Japan.” He characterised the perceived disparity as an unfair trade advantage in favour of Japan.
“The United States has suffered massive trade deficits at the hands of Japan for many, many years,” Trump said according to Reuters, while praising Japan for its spending on US military equipment.
Trump’s remarks on Japanese auto manufacturing caught the attention of industry watchers in the US. Some of the top Japanese automakers, including Toyota, Honda, and Nissan, already build millions of their best-selling vehicles in the states annually.
Toyota’s largest auto manufacturing plant in the world is in Georgetown, Kentucky. It employs 8,200 people and the company announced in April that it would spend $US1.3 billion to upgrade the facility.
At least nine of the Toyota brand’s best-selling vehicles are manufactured in the US, including the Toyota Camry sedan, the Highlander and Sequoia SUVs, the Toyota Corolla, and the Lexus ES350 luxury sedan. Those vehicles are assembled at plants in Indiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Texas.
In 2016, Honda manufactured nearly 70% of the cars it sold in the US in America, according to the manufacturer. And Nissan builds eight vehicles, including the best-selling Altima family sedan, at its Canton, Mississippi, plant.
Trump had similar remarks about German automakers in May this year when he criticised Germany’s trade surplus with the US and threatened to stop the sale of German vehicles in the US, Der Spiegel reported.
Those comments from Trump similarly raised eyebrows because two of the biggest German automakers, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, run factories in South Carolina and Alabama respectively. Volvo is building its first US plant in South Carolina, and Volkswagen builds its new Atlas SUV and the Passat sedan in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Those plants in the southern US have benefited their local economies and created thousands of jobs in their respective regions.