Trump: We Want Free and Reciprocal Trade with Japan [Video and Transcript]
President Donald Trump, speaking to a group of Japanese and American business leaders Monday, pointed out the $70 billion trade deficit the U.S. has with its pacific rim ally and said that they are working to create a better trade deal.
“We want free and reciprocal trade, but right now our trade with Japan is not free and it’s not reciprocal,” Trump told the group. “I know that we will be able to come up with trade deals and trade concepts that are going to be fair to both countries, and, actually, I think will actually be better for both countries.”
The president highlighted U.S. – Japanese cooperation in medicine, technology and industry while pointing out that working together makes both nations stronger.
“For the, actually, last 70 years, cooperation between our two countries has helped us to pioneer incredible advances in commerce, in science, medicine, and technology,” Trump said. “Our students study together, our scholars exchange ideas, and business leaders like you work together to invest in a better, more prosperous future for both of our nations.”
The president was joined at the event by the U.S. Ambassador to Japan William “Bill” Hagerty.
Transcript of President Trump’s remarks to U.S. and Japanese Business Leaders
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much, Bill. Please, sit down. Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador, for that wonderful introduction, I guess. Right? (Laughter.) That was good with me. And thank you for representing, Bill, so well the interests of the American people in Japan and the incredible relationship that you have with Japan. We really appreciate it. You’re doing a fantastic job. We very much appreciate it. Thank you.
Let me begin today by addressing the horrific shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families of today’s horrible and murderous attack. This act of evil occurred as the victims and their families were in their place of sacred worship. We cannot put into words the pain and grief we all feel, and we cannot begin to imagine the suffering of those who lost the ones they so dearly loved.
Our hearts are broken, but in dark times — and these are dark times — such as these, Americans do what they do best: We pull together. We join hands, we lock arms, and through the tears and through the sadness, we stand strong — oh, so strong.
My administration will provide its full support to the great state of Texas and all local authorities investigating this horrible crime. I’ve spoken just a few minutes ago with Governor Abbott, and we offer our thanks to the first responders, the FBI, all of the many people involved, both federal and otherwise. Ultimately, they stopped the suspect and rendered immediate lifesaving aid to certain victims of the shooting.
I will continue to follow the developments closely. All of America is praying to God to help the wounded and the families of the victims. We will never, ever leave their side — ever.
With that being said, we are here today in Japan with one of our closest and most cherished allies, through bad times and good times, through rain and through shine. I want to thank Secretary Tillerson — Rex — who has done a tremendous job of leading the dedicated men and women of the Department of State here in Japan and around the world.
The splendor and beauty of Japan has left a lasting impression on me and my family. And I want to thank the First Lady for being with us, Melania. Please stand. (Applause.) She’s become a very, very popular First Lady, I can tell you that. Whenever I speak, they have hundreds of signs out in the audience. We love our First Lady, which is so true. Thank you.
And our warmest admiration for this ancient culture. It’s an ancient culture and its customs are ancient, and it’s terrific. Over the weekend, Ivanka attended the World Assembly for Women with Prime Minister Abe, who I was with all day yesterday. I applaud the Prime Minister — and he’s a terrific person, by the way — for his dedication to advancing women in the workforce. And I share his commitment to empowering women in business and in all professions.
This morning, I am pleased to have an opportunity to discuss how we can strengthen and improve the economic ties between the United States and Japan. And I have to say, for the last many decades, Japan has been winning. You do know that.
For the, actually, last 70 years, cooperation between our two countries has helped us to pioneer incredible advances in commerce, in science, medicine, and technology. Our students study together, our scholars exchange ideas, and business leaders like you work together to invest in a better, more prosperous future for both of our nations.
I know many of the leaders in this room have helped build Japan into the center for commerce and innovation that it is today. And I want to commend you for your incredible achievements in so many areas. And I looked at a list of the people in the room — they are truly the leaders of industry. I congratulate you all. Names that, in many cases, I havent met, but I know you well, from reading about you on the covers of every business magazine and sometimes well beyond the business magazines. So, congratulations. Fantastic job you’ve done in building some of the greatest companies in the world. And it’s an honor to be working with you.
We want to thank and make the United States for the people in this room, and well beyond this room, the most attractive place for you to hire, invest, and to grow. That’s why we are very, very substantially lowering our taxes. The United States is one of the highest-taxed nations in the world. But it’s also a market like no other; by far, the biggest market in the world.
Its numbers are phenomenal over the last — since November 8th, Election Day. Our unemployment is at a 17-year low. We’ve gotten almost 2 million more people in the workforce in just that short period of time. I’ve reduced regulations terrifically, frankly, if I do say so myself — but at a level that nobody else has ever done. I’ve done more in nine months in terms of the reduction of regulations than any President has done in a full term, and it’s not even close. And if it were close, they will let you know about it tomorrow morning, believe me. They will tell you about it, but it’s not even close.
The stock market reached an all-time high on Friday, and that’s the 61st, I believe — something around that number — 61st time that’s happened. So we have a lot of happy people in this room because your stocks are right in there. And look at you, you’re smiling. Very happy. (Laughter.) What company? What company?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Oh, that’s another big one. That’s a great company. Are you happy? You happy with the job?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Good. Come around, give me your hand. (Applause.) That is some company, too. Congratulations, you’ve done a great job.
But it’s reached an all-time high. I believe it’s maybe in the neighborhood of 61 times during the course of — from November 8. And so we’re honored by that. GDP growth, very importantly, we hit 3.2 last quarter — 3.2 And this time we hit 3, and we figure a good point — I would say a good solid point for hurricanes. We had four horrific hurricanes, as everybody knows, and did tremendous damage to Texas and Florida and Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and Louisiana, and even Alabama was affected, and other places — Georgia.
And we figured at least a point. So I was going to close my eyes a little bit when the numbers came out. And the number came out at 3. That would mean that it would have been 4. And GDP at 4 was unthinkable, actually unthinkable, when I was running. And I said we could do it. They were saying maybe you could hit 2, 2.5. My first quarter was 1. We were in the ones. And so we’re at 3, and now 3.2. And again, without the hurricanes, I think we would have been 4 or very close to 4. So that’s GDP of 4. That was not something that people thought of in the first three or four years, and we’ve already hit it. And we will continue to.
On regulations, while I’ve reduced regulations terrifically. It would take, as an example, to build a highway — it would take 17 to 20 years to get approvals. And at the end of 20th year, in many cases, they voted it down. Do you approve? No. So they wasted tens of millions of dollars. There’s a highway in Maryland where it took exactly 17 years. And the original numbers were very little, and it ended up costing hundreds of millions of dollars for a very small, short highway. And we can’t have that.
So we’re trying to bring that number down from — anywhere from 13 to 20 years. We’re trying to bring it down to one year. You want to build a road? You want to build a highway? You want to build a school? You want to build a factory — most importantly, to the folks in this room — or a plant? You’re going to have your approvals very, very quickly.
Now, you may be rejected quickly, too. But that’s okay. If you’re rejected quickly — you don’t want to be rejected at the end of the 17th year. I approved a power plant, which has been under consideration for 11 years, and they gave up, and I approved it. And it’s a $7 billion plant. And the state wanted it and the local community wanted it, but they had environmental restrictions. And now it’s being built.
The Dakota Access Pipeline and, as you know, the Keystone Pipeline, that was rejected by the previous administration. The Keystone Pipeline was dead. And the Dakota Access Pipeline was in even in worse shape because they built it but they weren’t allowed to hook it up. So I consider not starting even better than that. And in my first week, I approved both. It’s 42,000 jobs. The Dakota is already open and Keystone is starting; it’s actually already started. And that was done in the first week — got it approved.
And we have many other things like that. I could stand here all day and tell you additional events that we’ve done that create jobs and are good for our country, not bad for our country. When you want to build your auto plants, you will have your approvals almost immediately. When you want to expand your plants, you will have your approvals almost immediately. And in the room, we have a couple of the great folks from two of the biggest auto companies in the world that are building new plants and doing expansions of other plants. And you know who you are, and I want to just thank you very much. I want to thank you.
I also want to recognize the business leaders in the room whose confidence in the United States — they’ve been creating jobs — you have such confidence in the United States, and you’ve been creating jobs for our country for a long, long time. Several Japanese automobile industry firms have been really doing a job. 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.)
And we’re very pleased that just last month, Denso announced that it will invest $1 billion to expand its activities in Tennessee, a great state — great state —
AMBASSADOR HAGERTY: (Inaudible) right here, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I know, I’m going to introduce him now. And create over 1,000 new jobs. And I do believe that’s you — another famous man. Come here. (Applause.) Great state. You’re going to love being there.
And again, it’s really terrific. You watch, it’s going to be — it’s going to go so smoothly. And the process is a much easier process now. So, thank you. Thank you both very much.
I want to thank these companies, but I want to thank all of the companies that are coming in. Many companies have announced now that they’re coming into the United States to do plants, to do factories, to move. You saw Broadcom is coming in — top 100 company — they announced on Thursday from the Oval Office. Anytime you’d like to expand a second — see, I dont have to do that now because you’ve already announced, so I dont have to bother. But if you do a little more expansion, we’ll do it from the Oval Office, you two, all right? (Laughter.)
But we just did that announcement from the Oval Office. And Foxconn is coming in with a massive plant that is going to be in Wisconsin. And that was very exciting. They do the Apple iPhones, and it’s going to be a tremendous success.
But we have to do more. The United States has suffered massive trade deficits with Japan for many, many years. Almost $70 billion annually. Seventy billion. Many millions of cars are sold by Japan into the United States, whereas virtually no cars go from the United States into Japan, and our car industry is doing very well and our product is fantastic. So we’ll have to negotiate that out, and we’ll do it in a very friendly way, and I know it’s going to be a successful negotiation.
And one thing I can say — that we make the greatest military equipment in the world. There’s nothing close. And the Prime Minister is ordering a lot of military equipment, as he should be — as he should be with what’s happening with one of your neighbors. So that is happening.
We had a case yesterday, as you know, where a missile was shot into Saudi Arabia, and their missile system defense — took the missile right out of the air, blew it up. Incredible talent, incredible technology that we have. Incredible. The accuracy that you can stop something like that, it’s like a needle in the air going very, very fast. And, just, we make incredible equipment, whether it’s the planes, the missiles — anything you can think about. There’s nobody even close. So we’re going to be doing a lot of business with many countries on defense.
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. We want free and reciprocal trade, but right now our trade with Japan is not free and it’s not reciprocal. And I know it will be. And we’ve started the process, and it’s gone on for a long time, but I know that we will be able to come up with trade deals and trade concepts that are going to be fair to both countries, and, actually, I think will actually be better for both countries. And I have no doubt that it will be done in a quick and very friendly manner.
I’m very optimistic about the future of our economic partnership. We are proud, for instance, that, after the United States, Japan is the largest owner of Boeing aircraft. Greatest commercial aircraft in the world. (Applause.) Is Boeing here? Boeing?
PARTICIPANT: Right there, for Boeing —
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Oh, look at my guy. Stand up. Boy, have I made him — (applause) — come, come.
(Inaudible.) You know, Melania had some of your stock. You know what happened? When I won, she was forced to sell it. (Laughter.) Fantastic. Great job you’re doing. And I do love the F-18 also. I love the F-18.
So we’re joined this morning also by Ray Washburne. Where’s Ray? Stand up. What are you doing in the back of the room like that, Ray? Since when have you become shy? (Applause.) Ray was with us from the beginning. Right from the day I announced, Ray felt very strongly about it. And Ray is now the CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, or OPIC, and Ray is working with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation to invest in bold, new infrastructure projects. This is a major development that will advance our shared interests in the region.
Ray, I want to thank you for doing such a great job. From day one, the day I met you — perfect job. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
And in partnership with the United States, the sovereign nations of the Indo-Pacific will work together to achieve a future of security, prosperity, and peace. We will have more trade than anybody ever thought of under TPP, that I can tell you. TPP was not the right idea. Probably some of you in this room disagree, but ultimately I’ll be proven to be right. We will have much bigger trade with the way we’re doing it right now, and it will be a much less complex situation.
We cherish the friendship between the United States and Japan. And I cherish my friendship with Prime Minister Abe. We welcome more Japanese investments into the United States. We believe that a balanced economic partnership will unlock new frontiers for discovery, unleash new prosperity for our citizens, and improve the lives of millions and millions of people all around the world.
We’re grateful for everything you do to promote opportunity in both Japan and the United States. We look forward to many years of cooperation, innovation, collaboration, and unbelievable trade — unbelievable trade. It’s happening and it’s going to happen.
So I want to thank everybody for being here today. Again, you are the rock stars of business. Amazing people. I hope your family recognize how important you are. Oftentimes, they don’t. Right? (Laughter.) But you really are. You’re the rock stars of business, and it’s an honor to be with you. And I think as soon as the media leaves, we’ll do some question and answers. Okay?
Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much everybody.