Asia Minute: Japan and the Politics of Trade

Feb 7, 2017

Credit d3ims / Flickr

Hawai‘i’s most popular car brand is facing pressure from the Trump administration. Toyota started the week with an earnings report that disappointed investors. But executives also talked about what they see as one of the biggest threats facing the company: U.S. trade policy. HPR’s Bill Dorman has details in today’s Asia Minute.


Toyota told investors this week that a strong yen cut into the profitability of vehicles it sold overseas in the latest quarter.  But expectations of a weaker yen in months ahead are lifting projections for future revenues.

Those currency calculations are one reality of the economics of international trade.

But it’s the politics of trade that are increasingly concerning Toyota’s leadership.

The direct quote from a top corporate official: “We see the impact of the new U.S. Administration’s trade policies on global trade as an economic risk.”

Donald Trump has been critical of Toyota’s plans to build a plant in Mexico set to launch in 2019.

Last year, Toyota sold nearly 2 .5 million vehicles in the United States - more than half of them made in America.  The company also makes more than 600,000 vehicles a year in Canada, and less than a third of that number in Mexico.

Toyota officials say they plan to invest another 10 billion dollars in the United States over the next five years. Including 400 additional jobs in Indiana - home state of Vice President Mike Pence.

More news about Japanese corporate investment in the United States might be coming soon.

Toyota’s president met Friday with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who just happens to be coming to Washington later this week.