Risk of a nationalistic backlash?
For sure Mr. WTO Lamy is concerned, isn't he?
"... As GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner and Toyota
President Fujio Cho were meeting this weekend near
Toyota's headquarters, Japanese auto executives appeared
to be making some pre-emptive moves to head off any
anti-Japanese sentiment among American consumers.
Toyota Chairman Hiroshi Okuda caused a stir recently by
saying he was considering raising prices on Toyota cars
in the United States in a bid to aid ailing U.S.
rivals, as well as sharing technological research with
American automakers. "The decline of the once
invincible American auto industry in the face of
Japanese competition could set off a nationalistic
backlash among American consumers," the Japanese daily
Asahi Shimbun warned in an editorial this past week.
"There is every reason for Japanese automakers to work
hard to avoid unnecessary conflict."
Such fears are overblown, analysts say. For one, the
Bush administration is much more concerned about imports
from China than Japan. And over the years, Toyota,
Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. have made a point
of opening plants in the United States and buying
U.S.-made parts. Also, Japanese cars are not only
popular, they're viewed as setting the standard.
Americans are global consumers, seeking the best quality
and price on products, regardless of where they are
designed or made. "Ultimately, U.S. consumers are
consumers first and citizens second. Most people don't
really think about where their vehicles are made," said
Walter McManus, an auto analyst at the University of
Michigan Transportation Research Institute. "The
attitude of 'buy American' -- in cars at least -- is
pretty much gone," he said..."
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