The Supreme Court Monday rejected Chrysler Corp.'s appeal involving an import-duties dispute with the federal government over car body components assembled in Mexico.
The court, without comment, let stand rulings that required Chrysler to pay tariffs on sheet-metal components such as car hoods, trunk lids, doors and roofs made in the United States but shipped to two Mexican plants for assembly into finished vehicles.During the assembly, the components were painted - a step Chrysler contended should make them eligible for a duty exemption.
An exemption exists for items made in the United States but assembled out of the country if, when returning, those items have undergone only minor changes ''incidental to the assembly process such as cleaning, lubricating and painting.''
U.S. Customs officials denied Chrysler's request for a partial-duty exemption on the cars' sheet-metal components, deciding the painting was not minor.
Chrysler argued that, under the exemption's plain language, all painting should be considered ''incidental.''
The Court of International Trade and a federal appeals court upheld the Customs Service's decision.
In the appeal acted on Monday, Chrysler's lawyers said the appeals court's reading of the exemption provision ''produces absurd results and cannot be fairly administered.''