Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda called on President Donald Trump to make a "careful and appropriate decision" on whether car imports to the US are a national security threat, and potentially impose tariffs, to avoid potential ripple effects across the industry.

Speaking in his capacity as chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Toyoda said imported vehicles aren't a threat and warned import restrictions would affect manufacturers, dealerships and customers.

Negative effects on the US economy and local jobs "should be avoided," Toyoda said Thursday in a statement. Trump, threatening levies of 25 per cent, on Sunday received the findings of a probe into whether imported vehicles posed a national security threat, the basis for imposing sanctions.

He now has 90 days to decide whether to act on the findings, which haven't been published.


Companies and governments from Europe to Asia have warned Trump that tariffs would hurt the US economy and disrupt the global auto industry.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross started the investigation in May under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act, the same provision the administration used last year to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum.

The car probe covers imports of vehicles including sport utility vehicles, vans and light trucks, as well as auto parts.

Higher US tariffs and retaliatory actions could jeopardise about US$500 billion ($734.9b) of trade flows, accounting for 2.8 per cent of 2017 global imports, Moody's Investors Service Ltd said this week.

"The economic fallout would be significant, with auto tariffs hurting the global economy by distorting prices and creating inefficiencies," it said.