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HQ 555920

July 03, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:S 555920 RA


TARIFF NO: 9802.00.80

Mr. Jack Alsup, President
Alsup & Alsup, Inc.
P.O. Box 1251
Del Rio, TX 78841

RE: Applicability of partial duty exemption to water ski ropes assembled abroad

Dear Mr. Alsup:

This is in response to your letter of February 25, 1991, on behalf of Fabrionics, Inc., requesting a ruling on the applicability of subheading 9802.00.80, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), to water ski ropes assembled in Mexico.


You state that your client will export to Mexico rolls of various colored polypropylene hollow braided ropes along with rubber-covered aluminum and wooden ski rope handles, all of U.S. origin. In Mexico, 30 and 80 inch segments are cut from two different colored rolls of rope and joined to the ends of the handle by running each rope through a hole in the handle and then attaching the rope to itself by inserting the end into the hollow of the rope. The other end of the 30 inch rope is joined to the 80 inch segment approximately 12 inches from the handle by inserting it into the hollow of the longer segment. The end of the 80 inch rope is then joined to itself, in the same manner described above, to form a loop. This completes the "bridle assembly." Four additional segments, of various lengths and colors, are cut from rolls, and loops are formed at each end of the four segments by attaching each rope to itself. The loops are then connected to form a continuous, segmented rope with one end attached to the bridle assembly.

You believe that the forming of the loops before connecting them is incidental to the assembly and should not disqualify the rope from the partial duty exemption under subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS.


Will the various ropes and handles be considered U.S. fabricated components entitled to the partial duty exemption under subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS, when returned as parts of the finished ski ropes?


Subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS, provides a partial exemption from duty for articles assembled abroad in whole or in part of U.S. fabricated components, provided the components (a) are exported in condition ready for assembly without further fabrication; (b) do not lose their physical identity by change in form, shape or otherwise, and; (c) are not 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 subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS, 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, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 10.24).

The assembly operations 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. See section 10.16(a), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 10.16(a)).

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 operation. See 19 CFR 10.16(a). Examples of operations considered incidental to the assembly process are delineated at 19 CFR 10.16(b). However, any significant process, operation, or treatment whose primary purpose is the fabrication, completion, or physical or chemical improvement of a component precludes the application of the exemption under subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS. See 19 CFR 10.16(c).

We are of the opinion that the joining of the ropes to the handles and to each other constitute qualified assembly operations under this tariff provision as the method of joining is analagous to force fitting which is specifically enumerated as an acceptable assembly operation in 19 CFR 10.16(a). Cutting the ropes to length is an operation incidental to the assembly process pursuant to 19 CFR 10.16(b)(6). Moreover, we find that forming the loops on each end of four additional segements and on the end of the 80 inch segment, prior to their joinder to each other, is incidental to assembly pursuant to 19 CFR 10.16(b)(5). The provision states that "[a]djustments in the shape or form of a component to the extent required by the assembly being performed abroad," are considered incidental to the assembly process.


Based on the information provided, we conclude that the operations performed abroad to create the water ski ropes constitute acceptable assembly operations or operations incidental thereto under subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS. Therefore, the assembled ropes are entitled to classification under this tariff provision, with allowances in duty for the cost or value of the U.S. components, upon compliance with the documentation requirements of 19 CFR 10.24.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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