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INTERNATIONAL AUTOMOTIVE MANUFACTURERS PRAISE COURT DECISION ON MPV TARIFF

 ARLINGTON, Va., May 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The Association of International Automobile Manufacturers (AIAM) today hailed the recent U.S. Court of International Trade's ruling that the Treasury Department was wrong to classify and charge tariffs on the two-door Pathfinder as a cargo vehicle.
 The ruling stated that the two-door Pathfinder should have been charged a tax of 2.5 percent, not 25 percent, because it is a vehicle principally designed to transport passengers. AIAM members believe this action should send a strong signal to the Clinton administration and the U.S. Congress, that the effort by the Big Three to reclassify four-door Multipurpose Passenger Vehicles (MPV) should be rejected.
 "Judge Jane Restani's opinion was on target when she concluded the Nissan Pathfinder virtually shouts to the consumer -- `I am a car-not a truck,'" said Philip A. Hutchinson, president of AIAM. "This judgment of the U.S. Court of International Trade was good for consumers because it shows that no matter how much the Big Three try to distort the truth, MPVs are designed to carry people, not cargo."
 Nissan initiated legal action in April 1991 to recover taxes paid based on a 1989 Treasury Department ruling which raised the tariff 1,000 percent on two-door sport-utility vehicles.
 A Win for the American Consumer
 AIAM believes the 1989 decision by the Treasury Department to increase dramatically the tax on imported two-door sport-utility vehicles severely restricted consumer choice by forcing the elimination of these sport-utility vehicles from a highly competitive and growing market.
 "When the tax was raised in 1989, not only did the American consumer have less to choose from in the market place, they had to pay higher prices," said Hutchinson. "We hope consumers realize that if the Big Three get their way, the effect of a 25 percent tax on all imported MPVs would again put many of these vehicles out of their price reach. No matter how you look at it, it's simply a middle class tax hike."
 According to a 1992 study conducted by the Citizens for a Sound Economy, a Washington-based grassroots consumer advocacy group, a 25 percent tariff increase on import MPVs would raise the average price of import vehicles by over $3,700 and domestic makes by over $1,300.
 AIAM members believe competition in the marketplace is good for America's economy, the U.S. automotive industry and especially consumers.
 Regulatory Consistency
 AIAM also believes that arguments of regulatory consistency have no merit.
 Hutchinson pointed out that the court ruling fully addressed the issue when the judge concluded:
 "The Pathfinder does not have to be a `passenger car' as defined by SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers), EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) or NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) in order to be principally designed for carrying people. MPVs are multipurpose passenger vehicles as opposed to on-road passenger cars. The definitions and classifications of NHTSA, EPA and similar organizations are not intended to control customs classification."
 AIAM hopes this ruling will put an end to further attempts by the Big Three to restrict competition in the MPV market.
 The Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, based in Arlington, represents nearly all the automobile companies headquartered outside the United States that distribute passenger cars and light trucks made both abroad and in factories in the United States.
 -0- 5/19/93
 /CONTACT: Kathleen Mordini of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, 703-525-7788/


CO: Association of International Automobile Manufacturers ST: District of Columbia IN: AUT SU:

KD-IH -- DC022 -- 0446 05/19/93 16:19 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:May 19, 1993
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