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HQ 732956


June 5, 1990

MAR-2-05 CO:R:C:V 732956 NL

CATEGORY: MARKING

David Lee, Vice President
A Plus International, Inc.
20531 Walnut Drive
Walnut, CA 91789

RE: Country of Origin Marking of Surgical Towels

Dear Mr. Lee:

This is in response to your letter of December 7, 1989, concerning the country of origin marking of surgical sponges and laparotomy sponges.

FACTS:

A Plus imports surgical towels and laparotomy towels in bulk from China. The shipping containers for the bulk towels and sponges indicate that China is the country of origin. After importation the towels are individually packaged by A Plus in plastic bags. There is no country of origin marking on the towels, but each filled plastic bag bears the marking "Made in China - Packaged and Sterilized in U.S.A.". Samples of the packaged towels and sponges have been submitted for our review. The bags are then delivered to a contractor who uses gamma radiation to sterilize the towels and sponges. Thereafter they are returned to A Plus in the original marked, unopened bags for distribution. Some of the repacked towels and sponges are sold on a piece basis, while others, still in their packages, are sold to be included in operating room kits.

ISSUE:

Does the above-described marking satisfy the country of origin marking requirements?

LAW AND ANALYSIS:

Section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), provides that, unless excepted, every article of foreign origin imported into the U.S. shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly, and permanently as the nature of the article (or container) will permit, in such a manner as to indicate to the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. the English name of the country of origin of the article.

Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304. Among the exceptions from the requirement that an article be marked with its country of origin is 19 U.S.C. 1304(a)(3)(D), which provides that an imported article may be excepted from individual country of origin marking when the marking of its container will reasonably indicate the country of origin of the article. This exception is implemented in 19 CFR 134.32(d).

Having examined the sample packaged towels and sponges it is our determination that the marking on the plastic containers reasonably indicates the country of origin of the towels and sponges to the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. In this instance the ultimate purchaser of the towels and sponges is the hospital or medical facility which buys them for use in surgical procedures. The packages which contain the articles have markings which clearly indicate the origin of the articles to the ultimate purchasers in the U.S. Therefore, the towels and sponges may be excepted from country of origin marking pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1304(a)(3)(D) and 19 CFR 134.32(d).

Because the towels and sponges will not be packed in the individual packages until after importation, final approval of the repackaging and marking of the individual packages is subject to the discretion of the district director pursuant to 19 CFR 134.34. That provision is designed for situations such as this, in which articles are imported in bulk for repackaging in marked retail containers. To secure the approval of the district director the importer must satisfy three conditions set forth in 19 CFR 134.34: the marking of the container must indicate the country of origin of the article to an ultimate purchaser in the U.S.; the importer must arrange, at his expense, for Customs supervision of the marking of the containers, or secure such verification, by certification and the submission of a sample, or otherwise, of the marking prior to liquidation of the entry as the district director may require; and finally, the entry must generally be liquidated not more than 60 days from the date that a request for repacking is granted.

As indicated above, the marking of the containers of the towels and sponges meets the requirements of 19 U.S.C.

1304(a)(3)(D) and 19 CFR 134.32(d). Provided the district director is satisfied with the marking upon direct supervision or upon receipt of such verification of marking as the importer may be required to submit, an exception from country of origin marking for the surgical towels and sponges may be approved pursuant to 19 CFR 134.34.

HOLDING:

The surgical towels and sponges which will be repacked as described above may be excepted from individual country of origin marking, subject to approval by the district director as provided in 19 CFR 134.34.

Sincerely,

Marvin M. Amernick
Chief, Value, Special Programs,

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