The VW Amarok won’t be sold in the U.S., all because of cheap American chicken

The VW Amarok won’t be sold in the U.S., all because of cheap American chicken

Have you ever wondered why you don’t see more light trucks being offered in the U.S.? Well, you have the Chicken Tax to thank for that.

So, what exactly is the Chicken Tax? Back in 1963, chicken farmers throughout Europe were frustrated with the inexpensive American chicken that was flooding the market, so European nations imposed a hefty tariff on American chickens. This fueled a big trade war with the U.S., so Lyndon B. Johnson’s response to the Europeans was a series of tariff increases on brandy, potato starch and light trucks (specifically German-built VW vans) which became known as the Chicken Tax. While most of those tariffs were eventually repealed, the 25% tariff on the importation of any light truck not built in the United States still remains in place over 50 years later.

The Chicken Tax forced Toyota, Nissan and Honda to build their trucks here in the United States, but Ford found one way around the tax. Ford builds their Transit Connect in Turkey with rear seats and windows before shipping to the U.S., but once here they’re stripped out and sold as a conventional cargo carrier.

Although Ford was able to skew the definition of a light truck, Volkswagen and other manufacturers plan to just ignore the domestic truck market entirely. Despite consumer requests for VW to sell the $35,000 Amarok in the United States, VW plans to just keep the foreign-built truck out of the U.S. market for now.

“We do not have any plans to introduce a VW pickup in the U.S. market,” said Jonathan Browning, CEO of Volkswagen Group of America. “But if there was no chicken tax, that would be a good time to reevaluate that.”

Photo: Volkswagen

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