If Trump follows through on his “buy American” promise, he may end up driving some foreign-owned retailers out of the US altogether, if recent remarks by the president of Japanese clothing giant Fast Retailing are any indication.
When asked by members of the Japanese media about his thoughts on Trump’s ideas for trade and manufacturing, Tadashi Yanai was steadfast in his opposition.
One sticking point was “made in the USA” clothing, which could prove difficult to make a reality for a retailer like the Fast Retailing-owned Uniqlo, which operates 51 stores in the US and primarily makes its clothing in Asia.
“If I was directly told to [manufacture in the US], I will withdraw from the United States,” Yanai told Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun in a group interview. “We would not be able to make really good products [in the US] at costs that are beneficial to customers.”
Because of the additional costs that would be passed on to consumers, and the lack of specialised labour in the country, Yanai said it would be “meaningless to do business in the U.S.”
Yanai also cautioned against Trump’s trade policies in general, which he said would raise prices across the board.
“[What Trump is doing] is not beneficial for US consumers,” Yanai said.
Trump has emphasised that US manufacturing and trade are central issues for his administration. He has proposed a border tax on any imports into the US as an incentive to manufacture in the country, but specific policy proposals are nonexistent, and it’s still unclear how the tax would apply to foreign companies.
Fast Retailing previously said that it wants to open 20 to 30 more Uniqlo stores in the US this year as part of a greater strategy to penetrate the American market.
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