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Imported Minivans

August 18, 1992

This letter is in response to your editorial "The Protection Racket" (Aug. 4).

The editorial did not address the most significant element of HR 4318, a bill designed to provide for consistent treatment of multipurpose vehicles (MPV).

Most fair-minded individuals would find it curious and unacceptable that importers are permitted to call MPVs cars for tariff purposes, but trucks for emissions, fuel economy, gas guzzler and luxury tax purposes. Import them as cars, but sell them as trucks. What a deal.

In early 1989, the U.S. Customs Service concluded, based on design characteristics, that all imported MPVs should be classified as trucks. In a controversial move, the ruling was overturned by Treasury. From outside--and even to some inside the Administration--the decision appeared to be influenced strongly by foreign governments. The Treasury decision was illogical and is costing U.S. taxpayers and the Treasury $300 million to $500 million a year.

Now is the time to correct a decision that contributes to the chronic trade imbalance with Japan--which was $43 billion last year. Of that total, automotive trade accounted for $33 billion.

ROBERT J. BIERMAN, Western Regional Public Affairs Office, Ford Motor Co., Anaheim

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