Even without a free-trade pact, Ford Motor Co.
has leaned on European models such as the Ford Fiesta and C-Max to extend its U.S. product line.
But that strategy can backfire.
This year, in a clear example of why Ford is pushing so hard for a trans-Atlantic treaty, the automaker had its hand slapped by the U.S. government for bringing cargo vans into the United States without paying the "chicken tax" -- a 50-year-old tax on imported trucks and vans, so named because it was imposed as payback for a German tariff on chicken.
In the little-noticed January ruling, officials at U.S. Customs and Border Protection took issue with how Ford was importing the Turkey-built Transit Connect, a commercial van popular in Europe that Ford launched in the U.S. market four years ago.