Larry White brought this up at lunch and no one believed him. Here’s the story, courtesy of the Washington Post (lightly edited):
Fifty years ago, America was staring down the barrel of a major international crisis. The problem wasn’t a big wall in Berlin or nuclear missiles in Cuba; the problem was frozen chicken. In the 1960s, the US was farming chicken on a massive scale and sending it to Europe. This drove down prices in Europe, [so] European countries either banned or instituted huge tariffs on chicken from the US.
The US retaliated by targeting key European products, and one of the most threatening products at the time was the light pickup truck — specifically, trucks from Volkswagen. The so-called “chicken tax” was instituted by president Lyndon Johnson and imposed a 25% tax on trucks and commercial vans imported to the US. [W]hich is why the only non-Detroit trucks to earn a toe-hold in the US have been those built by foreign companies at US facilities.
Yup, that’s US economic policy at work.