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Japan Says U.S. Won’t Hike Car Tariffs During Trade Deal Talks

Toshimitsu Motegi

Japan is sticking to its view that the U.S. won’t apply higher tariffs on imports of Japanese cars and auto parts so long as negotiations toward a trade deal continue, according to Tokyo’s lead negotiator with Washington.

The comments from economy minister Toshimitsu Motegi come as policy makers in Japan and Europe fret about the findings of a U.S. Commerce Department report on vehicle imports submitted to Donald Trump on Sunday.

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Trump has threatened to raise U.S. tariffs on car and auto part imports as high as 25 percent if they are deemed a U.S. security risk. Higher tariffs would wallop Japan’s biggest industry, severely denting the country’s growth prospects. Car and auto part exports made up 20 percent of Japan’s total exports in 2018.

Motegi said Tuesday he had previously confirmed with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer that Washington wouldn’t apply higher rates amid talks on a trade deal. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had also confirmed with Trump that existing rates would stay put while negotiations took place, he added.

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