Toyota: Trump proclamation signals the carmaker isn’t welcome in US

Toyota: Trump proclamation signals the carmaker isn’t welcome in US
Toyota via CNN

Toyota has criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to declare some auto sector imports a national security threat, saying it sends a message that Japan’s largest carmaker isn’t welcome in the United States.

Trump on Friday issued a proclamation directing his administration to pursue negotiations with countries that import cars and automobile parts, saying allies like the European Union and Japan have erected “unfair trade barriers.

The proclamation delayed new tariffs on foreign autos for six months while the negotiations continue.

The move sparked a sharp rebuke from Toyota, which had said this spring it is investing $13 billion in US operations over the next several years.

“Today’s proclamation 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 company said.

The statement says Toyota has 10 manufacturing plants in the United States, some 1,500 dealerships, an extensive supply chain and directly and indirectly employs 475,000 US workers.

“Most every American has a Toyota story and we are very proud of the fact that over 36 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles are still on U.S. roads today. Our operations and employees contribute significantly to the American way of life, the U.S. economy and are not a national security threat.”

In March, Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America, warned the tariffs the Trump administration has threatened on foreign vehicles would make it hard for the company to follow through on its plan to substantially increase investment in US plants over the next five years.

Nearly every corner of the auto industry — vehicle makers, part manufacturers, and dealers — have lined up against the proposed tariffs.

The Trump administration’s Friday proclamation says that “excessive imports have weakened American producers’ ability to invest in research and develop new technologies.”

The measure says foreign auto imports pose a “national security threat” and gives US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer 180 days to reach agreements with importing nations.

Trump on Friday lifted steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico put in place a year ago, a move designed to ease one area of tensions as a trade dispute with China ratchets up.

— CNN’s Katie Lobosco contributed to this report.