Trump Says Trade With Japan Is Not Fair And Not Open - Awkward Moments Ensue

Tyler Durden's picture

The first stage of Donald Trump’s five-nation tour of Asia began well with the President playing golf with Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, describing their relationship as “really extraordinary”.

This suggested progress following the awkward moment during their previous meeting in February 2017. Abe was the first foreign leader Trump met after his election victory and Trump was mocked on social media after refusing to give Abe his hand back during their 19-second handshake. Today their budding relationship was tested as Trump lashed out at Japan’s unfair trade practices and his related attempts at humour. In rhetoric that sounded familiar to his campaign speeches Trump complained that Japan has been “winning” on trade, alluding to the $69 billion trade deficit in 2016.

“We want fair and open trade. But right now, our trade with Japan is not fair and it’s not open. The US has suffered massive trade deficits with Japan for many, many years.

One way that Trump is aiming to fix the trade deficit by making it easier for Japanese companies to do business in the US. However, his decision to highlight the auto industry was perhaps unfortunate. Nonetheless, Trump lamented.

“Many millions of cars are sold by Japan into the United States, whereas virtually no cars go from the US into Japan…Try building your cars in the United States instead of shipping them over. That’s not too much to ask. Is that rude to ask?

Last year Japanese automakers manufactured approximately 4.2 million cars and 4.5 million engines in the US, so the criticism was somewhat unjustified. Besides Japanese companies making more products in the US, Trump is keen to gain better access for US companies in Japanese markets. He stated.

“As president, I‘m committed to achieving fair, free, and reciprocal trading relationship. We seek equal and reliable access for American exports to Japan’s markets in order to eliminate our chronic trade imbalances and deficits with Japan.

On that note, Trump had some words of advice for the Japanese leader for reducing the deficit by buying US missiles to combat North Korea. As Reuters notes.

Trump also pressed Japan to lower its trade deficit with the United States and buy more U.S. military hardware.


“He (Abe) will shoot them out of the sky when he completes the purchase of lots of additional military equipment from the United States,“ Trump said, referring to the North Korean missiles.


”The prime minister is going to be purchasing massive amounts of military equipment, as he should. And we make the best military equipment by far.”

Abe’s calmly responded that Japan would shoot down missiles “if necessary”. Having described Japan as a “majestic country” and praising its ancient culture and customs as “terrific”, there was another awkward moment as Trump compared Japan’s economy to the US. According to the FT.

At a press conference with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, Mr Trump joked that the US economy was more powerful than Japan’s, in an awkward moment during an otherwise positive visit where the two leaders focused on North Korea.


“The Japanese people are thriving. Your cities are vibrant and you've built one of the world's most powerful economies,” Mr Trump said. “I don't know if it’s as good as ours, I think not. OK? And we’re going to try and keep it that way, but you'll be second.”

We have a strong sense that Trump’s efforts at persuasion will have little impact on the US trade deficit with Japan. Indeed, we suspect that Abe is following the traditional Japanese approach of listening carefully, responding politely and carrying on regardless. That has been the tactic so far with the Japanese also highlighting that the current deficit is a significantly lower proportion of the total US trade deficit than it was in the past. Furthermore, as the FT explains, Japan was irritated when the Trump Administration withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

While Mr Trump and Mr Abe are aligned on how to tackle the threat from North Korea, the trade relationship remains a thorny issue. The US is trying to push Japan to enter into bilateral trade talks. Japan was disappointed when Mr Trump in January withdrew the US from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that was the economic pillar of Barack Obama’s Asia “pivot”.

Efforts as recently as last month to improve US/Japan trade relations foundered, as Reuters explains. Note the use of the term “Indo-Pacific”.

In a second round of economic talks in Washington last month, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso, who doubles as deputy premier, failed to bridge differences on trade issues. The two sides are at odds over how to frame future trade talks, with Tokyo pushing back against U.S. calls to discuss a bilateral free trade agreement. Trump also said earlier that an Indo-Pacific trade framework would produce more in trade that the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact pushed by his predecessor but which he announced Washington would abandon soon after he took office. The 11 remaining nations in the TPP, to which Japan’s Abe is firmly committed, are edging closer to sealing a comprehensive free trade pact without the United States.

During the press conference with Abe, Trump described his Asian trip as his “first visit to the Indo-Pacific” region. This seems to be part of the Trump Administration embryonic Asian strategy. The term was first used by Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, last month in a speech that praised India while criticising China for undermining the international order. The former Asia adviser to George W Bush, Dennis Wilder, told the FT that the Trump Administration is seeking a response to China’s “Belt and Road”.

Dennis Wilder, former, said Mr Trump was trying to find a way to respond to Chinese efforts to build economic and security ties across Asia. “The concept of a free and open Indo-Pacific region is a maritime centric concept that goes back to the great naval thinker [Admiral] Mahan,” said Mr Wilder.


“In some ways, the Trump team is trying to answer Xi Jinping’s big idea of the Belt and Road Initiative with their own big idea. The challenge is to put some substance to this concept."

Besides a lack of progress on trade with Japan, our sense is that aligning more closely with India is unlikely to counter China’s carefully constructed Eurasian strategy, to any meaningful extent. That is, absent a catastrophic bursting of China’s credit bubble which could set the Middle Kingdom back several years.

Meanwhile, there are plenty more stops on Trump’s Asian – especially China – for more gaffes, golf (?) and awkward moments as this FT diagram shows.

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BaBaBouy's picture

Hehehehehe ... Trump pulls Classic Trump ~

Waiting to see what he says to Duterte, should be a doozey ...

JibjeResearch's picture

Duterte, "Chump, We are not Asians, we are Europeans..."

Barry Madingo-Odongo's picture

What have Drumpf and Barry in common, they love to play with the schtick..Nice swing Donny...Zionist scum all of them.

JimmyJones's picture

Nah, still like Trump way more than Barry.  Nice feeble attempt at divide and conquer

Life of Illusion's picture





The bizarre ‘monkey hotel’ in Da Nang, Vietnam, where Xi, Trump, Putin are meeting on November 11

Apec leaders and other world leaders are about to gather in Da Nang at the monkey-themed InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort, known for its population of rare red-shanked doucs. Expect some monkey business

Stuck on Zero's picture

Trump needs to stop jawboning on trade and just slam the brakes on imports from the Asian countries.  Claim that the products were found to be flawed and were taking lives. Considering the crap coming out of Japan and China today that is the whole truth.

JimmyJones's picture

What is flawed that is manufactured in Japan?  Got a great set of knives from them.

beemasters's picture

"Your cities are vibrant and you've built one of the world's most powerful economies,” Mr Trump said. “I don't know if it’s as good as ours, I think not....”

Spoken like someone who travels on private jets looking down on the nation's infrastructures from 10,000 ft above ground.

old naughty's picture

Abe think "really extraordinary" too,

compared to the hand squeeze last.  ;-p

nmewn's picture

Can't wait till he goes to Hanoi...

"Hey! I wanna see that cell you guys tortured and brainwashed John McCain in!"

...truly riveting TeeeVeee.

Popcorn anyone? ;-)

MozartIII's picture

We will be entertained! At the very least. I love it!!

JimmyJones's picture

Japan is desperate to get away from China for a source of Rare Earth Minerals, if we get rid of the EPA crap regs regarding Thorium they will do whatever they can to rebuild that industry here.

JoseyWalesTheOutlaw's picture

Can't imagine what Duterte will say to DJT about Barry son of a whore Obama.....that would be better than some of Richard Pryor's material.

hedgeless_horseman's picture


How much oil from Alaska goes to Japan? 

Where did they get those kickass nuclear power plant designs?


HRClinton's picture

Westinghouse.  Westinghouse nuke plant.

Our (((financiers))) made then an offer they could not refuse. 

hedgeless_horseman's picture


Not fair?

Was not the whole point of Bretton-Woods to make them our slaves?

Wars have consequences.

Mr. Kwikky's picture

"Our slaves" ?! or talmudic bankster slaves?

InsaneBane's picture

+1, I like your rational thinking

LawsofPhysics's picture

Correct. Shut off the oil. Go ahead, I triple dog dare them HH!!!

buzzsaw99's picture

trump! trump! he's our man!  if he can't offend 47 world leaders in a whirlwind two week tour no-one can.  yay trump!

kuz's picture

"there are plenty more stops on Trump’s Asian – especially China – for more gaffes, golf (?) and awkward moments"


Am I on CNN or Zerohedge?

giorgioorwell's picture

What in that sentence strikes you as untrue?

Gap Admirer's picture

It is true that it is VERY awkward for the press. They are so used to kissing Dear Leader Obama's ass. Awkward that they can't/don't/won't kiss the president's ass now.

gatorengineer's picture

The problem in a nutshell is that Orange Jesus likes to leave sound bites, then never follows through.... Japan is the ultimate ponzi, but its protected by being a hive society.

giorgioorwell's picture

It's not awkward for the press, the press loves his crazy ass soundbites, ratings gold for's awkward for anyone that has to clean up the swath of damage left in Trump's wake, which would be his staff.

Mimir's picture

Welcome to reality.

spastic_colon's picture

"And we love it when you build cars — 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?  That’s not rude.  Is that rude?  I don’t think so.  (Laughter.)  If you could build them. But I must say, Toyota and Mazda — where are you?  Are you here, anybody?  Toyota?  Mazda?  I thought so.  Oh, I thought that was you.  That’s big stuff.  Congratulations.  Come on, let me shake your hand.  (Applause.)  They’re going to invest $1.6 billion in building a new manufacturing plant, which will create as many as 4,000 new jobs in the United States.  Thank you very much.  Appreciate it.  (Applause.)"

so pulling sources from CNN now are we ZH??

Mustafa Kemal's picture

“The Japanese people are thriving. Your cities are vibrant and you've built one of the world's most powerful economies,” Mr Trump said. “I don't know if it’s as good as ours, I think not. OK? And we’re going to try and keep it that way, but you'll be second.

The Donald turns on the charm


robertocarlos's picture

Maybe they have less niggers in Japan.

Mimir's picture

Their main problem is to keep the Americans out.

JoseyWalesTheOutlaw's picture

Imagine that........maybe Donald could cut a deal for sending 25 million niggers to Japan for 135 Japs

gatorengineer's picture

You would be hard pressed to find a more racist society than the japs.....  But at least they hate everybody who isnt japanese.

SRV's picture

Spent some time in Tokyo, outside the downtown core... it's quite an experience being in a completely homogeneous society, even when you're the odd one out!  

Hard to explain but if I had a choice I wouldn't hesitate to jump at the chance... alas there are none left for me on this god forsaken planet.

Thank you Mr. Global

IronForge's picture

Ugly American talking down on his Vassal.

Endgame Napoleon's picture

Japan builds cars here, using temporary workers in many cases, but those temp jobs pay a little better than most. Actually, American automakers also hire via temp agencies, using more temps than union auto workers, according to people who have worked the $15 to $17-per-hour temp gigs. I have to say that the section of this city with a Japanese auto plant is retaining its middle-class glow better than other sections of the city, which have gone from middle class to poor in the last few decades.

gatorengineer's picture

What skill is left in watching a robot build a car?  $17 an hour is big money in most places, hell its 10.50 slinging boxes for ScAmazon.  No education no trade / skills thats big money these days

aliens is here's picture


buzzsaw99's picture

i got a lotta problems with you people, and now, you're going to hear about it!  [/frank costanza]


you're saying, you want a piece of me?  [/frank costanza]

A. Boaty's picture

He didn't puke, so all good.

Rainman's picture

Melania married him cuz he got a great dad bod....he makin abdomens great again.

ZeroBeek's picture

Whiny whiny Trump

"Blehhh, free trade, that's not fair, blehhh"

Reality_checkers's picture

We can only hope that Japan sends Trump a American-made Takata airbag for Christmas

robertocarlos's picture

Book it. Shot down November 8th.

Moe Howard's picture

Would it be more awkward if he puked on the PMs lap?

gatorengineer's picture

It was more awkward Ivanka resting her tits on Abes head.... There is a reception picture somewhere....

Reality_checkers's picture

Well, Trump said we would have so much whining we wouldn't be able to stand it. So there you go.

Yippie21's picture

Get out the aluminum pole and start the airing of grievances!  Heh.  MAGA!  MJGA!

ludwigvmises's picture

Trumplomacy at its best. Well done, Mr. President.

shimmy's picture

Pumpkin boy is such a moron. He's got to be both the most embarrassing current world leader and one of the most embarrassing in known history.