Exclusive: Commerce head Ross wants Japan to shift more auto production to U.S.

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Friday that Japan should take additional steps to decrease its in excess of $40 billion automotive trade surplus considering the United States and the Commerce Department revisits its ongoing post on whether imported vehicles and parts pose a national security risk.

Ross said in an interview the fact that “best way” to address the Japanese auto trade surplus “should be to move manufacturing in the U.S.” He declined to speak about if the America would seek a voluntary automotive export cap from Japan in trade talks.

“The methodology that we’ll use will be determined by the negotiations. There are various ways you can solve things,” Ross said. “We start to use more manufacture of everything in the country. That’s our theme song with everybody.”

President Donald Trump said within the speech on Thursday that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told him recently that Japanese automakers are boosting investment in the United States.

Ross said he believed some foreign automakers will open U.S. facilities based on the increased requirements within the recent trade take care of Canada and Mexico for regional vehicle content and also for vehicle value built-in higher wage regions. He said that some Asian automakers could possibly have “a little difficulty complying” with all the new trade pact unless they add U.S. production.

Ross said the Commerce Department is currently “adjusting our research” into its Section 232 national security automotive investigation “to reflect the deal” with Mexico and Canada. He decided not to offer a timetable when the probe can be completed, stating it would be to as much as Trump.

General Motors Co, Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE), Toyota Motor Corp and various other automakers have warned that the tariffs cost jobs and lift vehicle prices.

Automakers have said privately they will not expect any announcement before next month’s mid-term U.S. congressional elections.