A Game Of Chicken Tax: Detroit Drops Pretenses, Wants To Keep Japan Out For As Long As Possible

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
a game of chicken tax detroit drops pretenses wants to keep japan out for as long

Detroit is finally dropping the mask and says what it really wants in U.S. / Japanese trade relations. It wants to keep existing barriers that frustrate importation of Japanese cars, and that, for all intents and purposes, prevent importation of Japanese trucks. For the next generation, Detroit wants to be in your pocket without outside interference.

Japan is formally joining negotiations on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement next month in Malaysia. Despite, or possibly because of shrill rhetoric based on lies and deception, Detroit could not prevent it.

Last week, a U.S. government panel led by the Trade Representative’s Office held a hearing to get advice on negotiating objectives for Japan.

“Now that Japan is part of the negotiations,” wrote Reuters, the American Automotive Policy Council, a lobbying group representing GM, Ford, and Chrysler, “is trying to hold on to the current 2.5 percent tariff on Japanese cars and the 25 percent tariff on Japanese trucks for as long as it can.” The unions joined the pleas to keep trade barriers against Japanese imports in place. “Thea Lee, deputy chief of staff for the AFL-CIO labor federation, said eliminating the 2.5 percent duty on Japanese cars would gut the Detroit automakers’ profit margins, especially for small- to medium-sized cars.” Reuters says. “Getting rid of the 25 percent truck tariff would eliminate the incentive for Japanese companies to build trucks in the United States, putting U.S. jobs at risk.”

According to Reuters, “Japan already agreed in principle that the phase-out period for U.S. auto tariffs would be the same as the longest phase-out for any other product in the pact.” The longest phase-out would be the pact with for South Korea, which eliminates the 2.5 percent U.S. car tariff after four years and the 25 percent U.S. truck tariff after 10 years.

Detroit and the unions finally drop the charade that all they are interested in is an opening of the allegedly closed Japanese car market, which has been wide open. The 25 percent chicken tax, along with skewed CAFE rules created a protected market for overpriced trucks that are safe from foreign competition. Detroit wants it to be protected for as long as possible, and the price to be paid by the American truck buyer.

In its representations to the panel, the AAPC still reiterated that Japan “maintains the most closed auto market in the developed world,” but nobody except Detroit and the unions believe the tired lies anymore. Hard pressed to name the non-tariff barriers it blamed for the low sales of American cars, the AAPC lamely demands that Japan adopts more UNECE rules, while the U.S. does not adopt any.

In contrast, the Japanese Auto Manufacturer Association JAMA delivered short and very polite comments:

“At times during the Japan TPP debate in the U.S., misunderstandings have led to statements that Japan’s market is closed to imports. In fact, Japan has zero auto tariffs and no restrictive customs or regulations only apply to imported vehicles. With regard to dealerships, there is no restriction on the brands or vehicles dealers in Japan can sell and Japanese automakers cannot intervene in these dealer decisions.

In the case of the Japanese market, it is essential to note that Japanese consumers overwhelmingly prefer very small cars, which U.S.-based automakers rarely provide. In 2012, smaller passenger cars, those with up to 2,000cc in engine capacity, had a 90 percent market share in Japan. However, the U.S.-based automakers offered only five models in this segment while European automakers offered 87 models. Accordingly, European car sales and market shares have been rising. These realities confirm that a critical factor to success in any auto market is to offer sufficient choices of models that appeal to local consumers.”

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  • JD-Shifty JD-Shifty on Jul 08, 2013

    I would think something like the ford transit would satisfy the miser small truck kind of guy these days.

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    • Vulpine Vulpine on Jul 08, 2013

      Yes. A business owner friend of mine has exactly that--because his Explorer was too big and too costly to drive as much as he does for his business. His Explorer now sits in front of one of his shops, skinned as advertising for that shop and almost never driven. With its size it makes a great billboard.

  • Vulpine Vulpine on Jul 14, 2013

    Try between 50% and 100% profit on some models, meaning anywhere from 15K to 30K pure profit simply because they're so easy to put together and don't have all the different weld points and other factors that make assembly so expensive. Sure, they've got all the computer gimmickry and added luxury that will raise the materials cost somewhat, but they still draw far, far more profit than the family sedan, typical SUV (non BoF) and other vehicles. The only ones now cheaper to make are the mini-cargo-vans as they simply have no interior to speak of.

  • Lou_BC ERay? A southern model will be the BillyRay.
  • Lou_BC I've never used a car buying plan service. My Costco membership did get me 1,000 cash back on my last truck.
  • Jeff S I can understand 8 cars is a bit much unless you are a serious collector. I always loved the Challenger when it first came out and now. I don't need a car like this but I am glad it exists at least for 1 more year. If I had a choice between a Mustang, a Camaro, and a Challenger I would opt for a Challenger but probably with a V-6 since it has more than enough power for most and I don't need to be burning rubber. Challenger has the classic muscle car looks, more cabin room, and a decent size trunk which makes it very livable for day to day driving and for traveling. The base models of the Dodge Challenger has a 3.6-liter V6 engine that gives you 305 horsepower with 268 lb-ft torque. The car attains 60 mph from a standstill within just 6 seconds, which is quite fast. Even with their base engines, the Challenger and Camaro are lightning-fast. The Camaro reaches 165 mph, while the Challenger can go up to 11 mph faster!
  • Inside Looking Out I would avoid American cities if I can. European cities are created for humans and Americans for cars.
  • Inside Looking Out I used True car once in 2014 and got a great deal. The difference is that you do nothing but dealers call you. No haggling but you can get the same deal browsing inventories on dealers websites. It just matter of convenience, Rich people delegate job to someone else because time costs more.
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