Japan's Abe: US auto tariffs will cost US jobs, harm economy

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers a speech during a press conference at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo Friday, July 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

TOKYO — Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned the U.S. on Friday that higher tariffs on auto imports would backfire and harm not only America's jobs and economy but also devastate the global economy.

Abe told a news conference marking the end of a Diet session that Japan's auto and auto parts industry has never threatened America's national security and it never will. Abe said he will keep explaining that to Trump.

Trump has ordered the U.S. government to investigate if higher tariffs on foreign-made vehicles and auto parts are justified on national security grounds.

Japan's auto industry has for decades invested billions of dollars in U.S. plants that employ hundreds of thousands of workers. Japanese automakers produce twice as many vehicles in the U.S. as they export from Japan, Abe said.

"Japan provides good jobs and contributes greatly to America's economy," Abe said. "If restriction measures were imposed, such employment will be lost, and not only will it have a negative impact on the U.S. economy but also cause tremendous damage to the world economy."

Abe's government last month sent a report to the U.S. Department of Commerce, warning against any trade restrictions.

In that report, Japan's government said any trade restrictions, if imposed, would increase costs for U.S. consumers and cause many Americans to lose jobs. It said the measures would put a break on global trade, disrupt the market and put global free trade "at great risk."

Up to 624,000 people could lose their jobs in the U.S. if a 25 percent tariff was levied on automobiles and auto parts and other countries retaliated.

Abe said he has repeatedly reminded Trump of Japanese auto makers' contribution to his country.

"Exchanges of trade restriction measures will benefit nobody," Abe said. "While explaining these points, we will persistently work hard to avoid trade restriction measures."

Already hit by increased U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, Japan has told the World Trade Organization it may levy retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods totaling about 50 billion yen ($450 million) a year.

_____

Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

Find her work at https://www.apnews.com/search/mari%20yamaguchi

Must Read

Britain's May seeks out new trading relations post-Brexit

Sep 4, 2016

British Prime Minister Theresa May says she intends to seize new trading opportunities for a...

Obama and Putin meet in China amid struggle for Syria deal

Sep 5, 2016

US, Russia struggle to keep alive negotiations to end the bloodshed between U.S.-backed rebels

Merkel appeals to Russia to enable Syria cease-fire

Sep 5, 2016

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is renewing an appeal to Russia to enable a cease-fire in Syria and...

Asian stocks mixed on stronger China trade, Nasdaq gain

Sep 8, 2016

Asian stock markets were mixed Thursday after China reported unexpectedly strong trade and Wall...

China imports grow in August for 1st time in 2 years

Sep 8, 2016

China trade showed unexpected strength in August in a positive sign for global economic growth