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HQ 555687

April 25, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:S 555687 DSN


TARIFF NO.: 9802.00.80

Mr. Philip Freeman
Cain Custom Brokers, Inc.
421 Texano
P.O. Box 150
Hidalgo, Texas 78557

RE: Ice dispenser housing from Mexico; assembly; 19 CFR 10.14, 10.16(a)(c), 10.16(b)(6); 555671; 555533; 555269; 067389.

Dear Mr. Freeman:

This is in response to your letter dated June 15, 1990, on behalf of Whirlpool Corporation, requesting a ruling concerning the applicability of subheading 9802.00.80, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), to refrigerator ice dispenser housings imported from Mexico. Your request for a country of origin marking waiver will be the subject of a separate letter. We regret the delay in responding.


According to your submissions, Whirlpool intends to assemble refrigerator ice dispenser housings in Mexico from U.S.-origin components. Upon importation, refrigerator ice dispenser housings are to be mounted to the front of refrigerator doors.

You state that in step one of the assembly process, the pivot bracket, ice door retainer, ice door support assembly and the torsion spring are placed together on a holding fixture. A pivot pin is inserted through holes in the above parts, and then a retainer pivot pin is snapped onto these parts by hand to hold the parts together. This constitutes the "ice door mechanism assembly". The next step consists of fastening with two hex screws the ice door mechanism to a plastic ice housing.

The third step consists of snapping by hand two bearing clips into a part referred to as the "ice lever". The left and right bearings are attached to the ice lever by hex screws, with a retaining spring placed over the right bearing. The ice lever is then snapped by hand onto a plastic ice door.

The fourth step consists of attaching the "control mounting bracket" which includes a wire harness and a grommet, to the ice housing using a hex screw and placing the wire harness through the housing and snapping the grommet into its access hole. Then a "delay mechanism" is fastened to the ice door by a hex screw.

The fifth step consists of placing a part referred to as the "ice guide" over the "ice lever arm" and securing it with a screw.

The sixth step consists of turning the ice housing over and cutting to length a foam gasket and removing the backing from the glued side. This gasket is glued around the periphery of the ice housing approximately one inch from the edge.

The final step consists of forming an "ice dispenser heater" with aluminum foil over the ice housing. The ice dispenser heater is attached by seven pieces of masking tape.


Whether the refrigerator ice housings will qualify for the partial duty exemption available under subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS, when returned to the U.S.


Subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS, provides a partial duty exemption for:

(a)articles assembled abroad in whole or in part of fabricated 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.

All three requirements of subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS, must be satisfied before a component may receive a duty allowance. An article entered under this tariff provision is subject to duty upon the full cost or value of the imported assembled article, less the cost or value of the U.S. components assembled therein, upon compliance with the documentary requirements of section 10.24, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 10.24).

Section 10.14(a), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 10.14(a)), states in part that:

(t)he components must be in condition ready for assembly without further fabrication at the time of their exportation from the United States to qualify for the exemption. Components will not lose their entitlement to the exemption by being subjected to operations incidental to the assembly either before, during, or after their assembly with other components.

Section 10.16(a), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 10.16(a)), provides that the assembly operation performed abroad may consist of any method used to join or fit together solid components, such as welding, soldering, riveting, force fitting, gluing, laminating, sewing, or the use of fasteners.

Operations incidental to the assembly process are not considered further fabrication operations, as they are of a minor nature and cannot always be provided for in advance of the assembly operations. However, any significant process, operation or treatment whose primary purpose is the fabrication, completion, physical or chemical improvement of a component precludes the application of the exemption under subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS, to that component. See, 19 CFR 10.16(c).

Those operations to be performed in Mexico which result in securely joining components together by gluing, snapping, taping, screwing, and attachment by grommets are considered acceptable assembly operations pursuant to 19 CFR 10.16(a) and Headquarters Ruling Letters (HRLs) 555671 of March 15, 1991, and 555533 of June 4, 1990. In addition, the cutting to length of the foam gasket is considered an operation incidental to assembly pursuant to 19 CFR 10.16(b)(6); and HRL 555269 of December 20, 1990. However, if the cutting/trimming operation is more extensive then merely cutting the foam gasket to a shorter length (i.e., shaving off corners, trimming edges, or cutting to a distinctive shape), it is too significant to be considered an incidental operation. See, 19 CFR 10.16(c)(5) and HRL 067389 of January 28, 1982 (trimming and shaping steel plates into different shapes is not an acceptable incidental operation).


On the basis of the information provided, it is our opinion that the foreign operations performed on the U.S. components are proper assembly operations or operations incidental to assembly pursuant to HTSUS subheading 9802.00.80. Therefore, an allowance in duty may be made under this tariff provision for the cost or value of all U.S. components upon compliance with the documentary requirements of 19 CFR 10.24.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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