Japan leader rebukes Trump's putative new-car import tariffs

May 31, 2018

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday spoke out against rumors that the Trump administration will consider tariffs as high as 25 percent on new cars shipped to the U.S. from abroad.

"It's hard for Japan to understand and we cannot accept it," Abe reportedly told the Japanese parliament, adding that tariffs such as those floated by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross would fall outside parameters set by the World Trade Organization.

The prime minister and President Donald Trump are set to meet in Washington on June 7 to discuss North Korea. It's not clear if their discussion will also cover international trade between the two countries.

After Mexico, Japan is the second-largest exporter of new cars to the U.S. and it builds some of the most popular new cars sold here such as certain versions of the Toyota RAV4. Last year, the RAV4 was Toyota's most popular model in the U.S. and it outsold all passenger cars other than full-size pickups.

The Commerce Department launched a Section 232 investigation—a provision of a 1962 trade law that grants the president the ability to control products built abroad that could "impair the national security."

A similar investigation earlier this year resulted in tariffs as high as 25 percent on certain raw materials imported to the U.S., although negotiations continue with some U.S. allies.

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