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HQ 555218

September 13, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:C:V 555218 GRV


TARIFF NO.: 9802.00.80

Mr. David S. Simpson, Jr.
Joffroy Customs Brokers, Inc.
Nogales Foreign Trade Zone
Nogales, Arizona 85628-0698

RE: Applicability of partial duty exemption under HTSUS sub- heading 9802.00.80 to guitar strings from Mexico

Dear Mr. Simpson:

This is in response to your letter of December 7, 1988, on behalf of The Martin Guitar Company, requesting a ruling on the applicability of item 807.00, Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS) (now subheading 9802.00.80, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS)), to guitar strings to be made in Mexico. Samples of the U.S. components and the finished guitar string were submitted for examination.


You state that hex core ball ended wire (core wire) and brass wrap wire (wrap wire) of U.S. manufacture, cut to length in the U.S., will be exported to Mexico for assembly into guitar strings. The core wire has microscopic slats (tiny grooves) in it which allows the wrap wire to be received and held permanent- ly to the core wire. The assembly operation entails placing a core wire in the jaws of a winding machine, threading a wrap wire through the loop in the core wire at one end and wrapping the wrap wire onto the core wire to create a guitar string. The other end of the wrap wire is permanently joined to the core wire by the slats. The guitar string is then removed from the winding machine and put into a cleaning solution, which protects the string against corrosion. The guitar string is then dried on a rack, packaged and returned to the U.S.


Whether the wire winding operation constitutes an acceptable "assembly," thereby entitling the guitar strings to the partial duty exemption under HTSUS subheading 9802.00.80 when returned to the U.S.

HTSUS subheading 9802.00.80 provides a partial duty exemp- tion for:

[a]rticles assembled abroad in whole or in part of fab- ricated components, the product of the United States, which (a) were exported in condition ready for assembly without further fabrication, (b) have not lost their physical identity in such articles by change in form, shape, or otherwise, and (c) have not been advanced in value or improved in condition abroad except by being assembled and except by operations incidental to the assembly process such as cleaning, lubricating, and painting.

An article entered under HTSUS subheading 9802.00.80 is subject to duty upon the full value of the imported assembled article less the cost or value of such U.S. components, upon compliance with the documentary requirements of section 10.24 of the Customs Regulations (19 CFR 10.24).

Assembly operations for purposes of HTSUS subheading 9802.00.80 are interpreted at section 10.16(a), Customs Regula- tions (19 CFR 10.16(a)), which states that the assembly opera- tions performed abroad may consist of any method used to join or fit together solid components.

Operations incidental to the assembly process are not con- sidered further fabrication operations, as they are of a minor nature and cannot always be provided for in advance of the assem- bly operation. Examples of operations considered incidental to the assembly process are delineated at section 10.16(b), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 10.16(b)). The first and third examples pro- vide for cleaning and the application of preservative coatings.

In the present case, the description of the foreign opera- tion and an examination of the sample submitted show that the guitar strings to be imported will be eligible for the partial duty exemption available under HTSUS subheading 9802.00.80. The core and wrap wires to be exported are finished/completed fabri- cated components, the product of the U.S. Once abroad, the core wire is securely wrapped with the wrap wire, such that the two wires are permanently joined together, which constitutes an acceptable means of assembly, within the meaning of 19 CFR 10.16(a). The subsequent application of a cleaning solution to preserve the guitar string constitutes an acceptable incidental operation, within the legal meaning of 19 CFR 10.16(b). Fur- ther, an examination of the sample submitted shows that the exported wires do not lose their physical identity in the assembly operation, and that they are not advanced in value or improved in condition except by assembly operations or operations incidental thereto.


On the basis of the described foreign assembly operation and after examining the samples submitted, the wire winding operation is deemed to constitute an acceptable assembly operation under HTSUS subheading 9802.00.80, and, therefore, the guitar strings will be eligible for the partial duty exemption under that tariff provision when returned to the U.S., upon compliance with the documentary requirements of 19 CFR 10.24.


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