TOKYO — Japan's automakers are hoping for some exemptions on Trump administration metal tariffs like the ones Canada and Mexico received.
Or else, they said last week, prices will have to go up.
"If there is going to be a tariff levied, then everyone will have to raise their prices," said Hiroto Saikawa, CEO of Nissan Motor Co., wearing his hat as 2018 chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association at a press conference here last week. "I don't think this will have any good impact."
The group acknowledged that it was too early to know how steel and aluminum prices will be affected, or how much market prices would rise. But JAMA warned that prices will increase following the 10 percent tariff on aluminum and 25 percent on steel that President Donald Trump signed into action this month.
The association said it was waiting to see what kind of exemptions might be made for U.S. trading partners beyond Canada and Mexico.
Trump temporarily exempted Canadian and Mexican-made product, pending a successful renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. At the time, Trump said other countries would be able to apply for exemptions based on their contributions to U.S. national security and how much they pay into alliances such as NATO.
While JAMA expects prices to rise, Saikawa declined to put a monetary figure on the impact. That will depend on possible specific exemptions that could vary by part and by manufacturer.
Japanese automakers in the United States already locally source much of their commodity steel, making steel parts less vulnerable to tariffs than aluminum products, he said.
"We do not see the full picture," Saikawa said. "We have to wait and see."