Toyota CEO: Trump tariffs make me 'feel sad'

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda says the idea that imported Japanese cars represent a national security threat to the United States makes him “feel sad.”

Toyoda was asked about the possibility of auto tariffs at an Economic Club event in Washington, D.C., on Friday.

President Trump has threatened enacting tariffs on the basis of national security.

“I just don’t know why they call it a national security threat. That really makes me feel sad. I hope this kind of conversation can go away,” Toyoda said through an interpreter.

Toyoda noted about 50% of all Toyota vehicles sold in the United States are made in the United States.

On Thursday, the Japanese automaker announced it would increase its investment in the U.S. to $13 billion, up from $10 billion, over five years— adding nearly 600 manufacturing jobs. Toyota says it plans to expand facilities or increase production capacity in Alabama, Kentucky, West Virginia, Missouri and Tennessee.

Jim Lentz, Toyota Motor North America CEO, told reporters the company is eager to understand the findings of the Commerce Department’s investigation into whether auto imports pose a threat to national security.

“I think our team members — the 137,000 from design to engineering to manufacturing to sales and service— I think they’re eager to understand, are they a threat to national security?,” said Lentz.

The auto industry has lobbied the administration not to place tariffs on imported cars and parts would add thousands of dollars to car costs and might hurt the economy by slashing jobs.

Jessica Smith is a reporter for Yahoo Finance based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at @JessicaASmith8.

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