U.S. policies need close watch, Ghosn says after Trump hits Toyota

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Nissan Motor Co. Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn said Thursday he will pay close attention to U.S.-President elect Donald Trump's trade policy following his threat over Toyota Motor Corp.'s Mexico plant plans.

"We all want to be watching carefully...what's going to be the new policy, what's gonna be the rules, particularly North American (trade) rules," Ghosn told reporters in Las Vegas where he is attending the Consumer Electronics Show, an annual global trade show.

Trump has said he will focus on putting "America First" by pressing companies to keep jobs and production in the United States, vowing to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, a deal concluded by the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Ghosn indicated patience is needed ahead of Trump's inauguration Jan. 20. "Nothing (has) happened so far," Ghosn said, while adding that he "is fine" with the president-elect's "America First" stance to create new jobs.

Nissan, Japan's second-largest automaker, has major export bases in Mexico.

It launched its Mexican production in the 1960s followed by Honda Motor Co. in 1995 and Mazda Motor Corp. in 2014.

Sony Corp. President Kazuo Hirai on Thursday expressed hope the president-elect will support open corporate practices.

"I request world leaders to guarantee a free flow of people, products, money and information," said Hirai, who is also in Las Vegas for the CES.

Sony exports DVDs produced in a plant in Mexico to the United States.

"It is important that Mr. Trump acts accordingly to the more specific plans he will have when he becomes president," he said.

The president-elect threatened Thursday in a Twitter message to impose heavy taxes on Toyota if the Japanese automaker goes ahead with its plan to produce Corolla cars for the United States in Mexico.

The tweet came after Toyota President Akio Toyoda said in Tokyo that the automaker has no immediate plans to reconsider its envisaged production in Mexico.

After the Trump tweet, Japanese automakers said Friday that they have no plans at the moment to reconsider their production in Mexico despite Trump's blast against Toyota.

"Our plants are already in full operation. We have no changes in our plans," a spokesperson at Honda Motor said.

But with Trump indicating that the United States could slap a 35 percent tariff on imports from Mexico, a major Japanese carmaker official said that an extreme rise in tariffs, if it happens, "could lead to a possible reviewing of our production (in Mexico)."

Honda Motor President Takahiro Hachigo told reporters Thursday that the company plans to stay in Mexico hopefully "for the continuation of the NAFTA deal."

Mazda Motor CEO Masamichi Kogai also said earlier in the week that the automaker's Mexican plant will remain a core manufacturing base.

==Kyodo

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