WASHINGTON—The American Automotive Policy Council, a trade group representing Ford, GM and Fiat Chrysler, is urging the Trump administration to hold off further opening the American market to Japanese cars until Tokyo shows its committment to returning the favor. Matt Blunt, president of the Council, recommends the administration avoid making any concessions that would further open the U.S. market to Japanese imports unless and until there is evidence that Japan is "truly committed to opening its auto market to U.S. vehicles.”
Blunt made the comment at a Dec. 10 hearing held by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office on its plans to work out a trade deal with Japan. President Donald Trump’s administration intends to start negotiations as early as mid-January, after notifying Congress of its plans in October. Trump agreed with Japan’s Shinzo Abe in September to refrain from imposing new tariffs on Japanese cars while the two sides are engaged in trade talks.
U.S. automakers exported less than 20,000 vehicles to the Asian nation last year, according to Blunt. Regulatory barriers such as safety and fuel standards make it difficult for American companies to penetrate the market, he says. The U.S. had a $69 billion trade deficit in goods with Japan last year.
Japanese automakers have major manufacturing operations in the U.S. and produced 3.8 million cars in America last year, says John Bozzella, CEO of the Association of Global Automakers, which represents companies including Nissan and Honda.