Jiji PressTOKYO (Jiji Press) — Japanese firms are shocked by Donald Trump’s Twitter bomb dropped on Toyota Motor Corp. over a planned factory in Mexico, as their concerns about an attack by the U.S. president-elect have become reality.
Trump on Thursday threatened to impose a “big border tax” on Toyota if it builds the factory to manufacture Corolla sedans. Japanese companies doing business in North America are braced for the possibility of becoming Trump’s next target.
Trump’s tweet was apparently a response to a remark by Toyota President Akio Toyoda that the company will not change the Mexican factory plan.
Following the incoming president’s online rage, Toyota published a statement Friday that it has “10 manufacturing facilities, 1,500 dealerships and 136,000 employees” in the United States and that it “looks forward to collaborating with the Trump administration.”
“Production volume or employment in the U.S. will not decrease as a result of our new plant in Guanajuato, Mexico,” the statement also said.
But it is uncertain whether Trump will listen.
Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, no tariffs are imposed on vehicles made in Mexico and exported to the United States. Against the backdrop, Japanese, U.S. and European automakers have plants in Mexico, and suppliers and other related businesses also operate there.
Trump has pledged to review NAFTA in line with his policy of putting his country first.
Nissan Motor Co. is the top auto producer in Mexico. Its annual output in the country exceeds 820,000 units, of which more than 40 percent is exported to the United States.
If NAFTA is going to change, Nissan will make adjustment, President Carlos Ghosn told a press conference in the United States Thursday.
Honda Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp. will keep a close watch on the policies of the new U.S. administration, officials said.
Shigenobu Nagamori, chairman and president of Japanese motor maker Nidec Corp., said Friday that he is “not considering at all at this point” transferring automotive motor production in Mexico to the United States.
But he also said the company can make such a move “anytime,” because it has factories in the United States.
Other industries are also wary about Trump.
JFE Steel Corp., a unit of JFE Holdings Inc., and its U.S. partner are building a factory in Mexico to manufacture steel sheets for automobiles.
JFE Steel will not change its plan to start the operations of the plant in 2019, President Koji Kakigi said in an interview.
But he also expressed anxiety, saying that firms would not be able to bear huge costs that would arise if NAFTA is revised and companies running business in Mexico are forced to move their plants to the United States.
Construction machinery firm Komatsu Ltd. , a rival of Caterpillar Inc. of the United States, was criticized by Trump during his presidential election campaign.
Komatsu President Tetsuji Ohashi has said again and again that his company owns factories and has created jobs in the United States.
By contrast, Yoshimitsu Kobayashi, chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives, or Keizai Doyu-kai, sounded optimistic, telling reporters Trump’s policies “will be adjusted as accurate information reaches.”
“Toyota has made investments and created jobs in the United States. If the information is accurately communicated, the firm will not be required to withdraw its plan as Ford Motor Co. was,” he said.Speech