Japan’s carmakers are not resting easy, despite recent suggestions that US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could announce some sort of quid pro quo agreement, where Japan gives American farmers new access to its market in exchange for reduced tariffs on certain Japanese auto parts, in September.
Given the unpredictability of the US administration on trade issues, concerns remain that crippling tariffs could be imposed on the auto sector, Japan’s biggest manufacturing industry.
Japan’s auto exports have long been in the president’s cross hairs as he reiterates his “America First” slogan. And with the US election less than 18 months away, a philosophy of more jobs for workers at home and socking one to a foreign rival is likely to appeal to his core supporters. Cars are an easy mark, admits Koji Endo, an auto-sector analyst with SBI Securities in Tokyo.