President Donald Trump continued to press for “reciprocal” trade during his meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and business leaders.
The president predicted “very, very strong action” for the American worker on trade during a press conference with Abe.
He explained that he viewed trade deals with foreign nations through the eyes of the American worker.
“I view the companies not as a company, I view it as an extension of the worker,” he said, pointing out that some countries were “treating our companies, our country, and our workers very unfairly.”
He specifically called out large trade deficits with China and Japan.
Trump said that he had already completed the legal foundation for trade negotiations, but that the specific actions would have to meet 30, 90, 120 day notification periods.
Trump made reciprocal trade the focal point of his meeting with Japanese business leaders.
“We want fair and open trade. But right now, our trade with Japan is not fair and it’s not open, but I know it will be, soon,” Trump said.
Trump said that trade with Japan would be far greater than under the multi-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, that he axed after the presidential election.
“Probably some of you in this room disagree, but ultimately I’ll be proven to be right,” he said. “We will have much bigger trade with the way we’re doing it right now, and it will be a much less complex situation.”
Japan wants to keep the TPP trade deal intact for the eleven remaining countries in the deal, despite the United States exiting the pact.
Trump used the Japanese auto market as an example of unfair trade policies, explaining that millions of Japanese vehicles were sold in the United States, but very few American cars were sold in Japan.
He also encouraged Japanese car companies to build more factories in the United States.
“If you’re a Japanese firm, we love it — try building your cars in the United States instead of shipping them over. Is that possible to ask?” he said. “That’s not rude. Is that rude? I don’t think so.”
Trump recognized executives from Toyota and Mazda praising their decision to build and expand more car manufacturing in the United States.
“Come on, let me shake your hand,” he said.
Trump also urged Japan to purchase more military equipment, especially missile defense technology to block threats from North Korea.