Tadashi Yanai, the president of Uniqlo's parent company, said he'd pull out of the US market if Trump made retailers manufacture stateside.
If President Donald Trump follows through on his promise to "buy American," he may end up driving some foreign-owned retailers out of the US altogether, if recent remarks by the president of the Japanese clothing giant Fast Retailing are any indication.
When asked by members of the Japanese media on Wednesday for his thoughts on Trump's ideas for trade and manufacturing, Tadashi Yanai was steadfast in his opposition.
One sticking point for Yanai was the possibility of a mandate for "made in the USA" clothing, which could prove difficult for a retailer like the Fast Retailing-owned Uniqlo, which operates about 50 stores in the US and primarily makes its clothing in Asia.
Yanai told the Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun in a group interview that if he were told directly to manufacture in the US, "I will withdraw from the United States." He said the company would not be able to make good, affordable products in the US.
Because of the additional costs that would be passed on to consumers and the lack of specialized labor in the country, Yanai said it would be "meaningless to do business in the United States."
Yanai also cautioned against Trump's trade policies in general, which he said would raise prices across the board. He said what Trump was doing was "not beneficial for US consumers."
Trump has emphasized that US manufacturing and trade are central issues for his administration. He has proposed a border tax on US imports as an incentive to manufacture in the country, but specific policy proposals are nonexistent, and it's unclear how the tax would apply to foreign companies.
Fast Retailing has said it wants to open 20 to 30 more Uniqlo stores in the US this year as part of a strategy to penetrate the American market.