Importation Into the U.S. of Automobiles That Do Not Conform With Emission Requirements]

Gao ID: B-217842 July 2, 1986

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined issues concerning the importation of motor vehicles that do not conform with the applicable emission requirements of the Clean Air Act or the safety requirements of the Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. GAO found that: (1) both the Environmental Protection Agency's and the Customs Service's actions to exempt individual and immigrant importers from conforming their vehicles were authorized as discretionary enforcement exercises under applicable law; (2) since the definition of a manufacturer in the Clean Air Act provided the legal basis for treating commercial importers as manufacturers, implementation of the definition was exempt from rulemaking procedures; (3) an importer who was not affiliated with a foreign automobile manufacturer probably violated trademark laws when it used the company's logo; (4) additional legislation addressing compliance with emission standards as a condition for importation would eliminate uncertainties in H.R. 6076 concerning the legal authority to restrict or prevent importation of non-conforming vehicles; (5) although the Department of Justice disagreed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's proposed rule that would have permitted only original manufacturers to certify compliance with theft prevention standards, the final regulations allow importers of nonconforming vehicles to be treated as manufacturers and certify compliance; and (6) there were no inconsistencies between the applicable statutes and regulations.

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