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HQ 556124

October 31, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:S 556124 DSN


TARIFF NO.: 9802.00.80

Mr. Russell L. Jones
P.O. Box 488
San Luis, Arizona 85349

RE: Applicability of partial duty exemption to spring brakes assembled in Mexico; assembly; 19 CFR 10.16; 555553; 555565; 555765

Dear Mr. Jones:

This is in response to your letter dated June 26, 1991, on behalf of TSE Brakes, Inc., requesting a ruling concerning the applicability of subheading 9802.00.80, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), to spring brakes imported from Mexico.


According to your submissions, TSE Brakes, Inc., intends to assemble spring brakes in Mexico from U.S-origin and foreign components. The spring brakes are designed to be mounted on the outside of large trucks and buses.

You state that approximately 60 percent of the components are of U.S. origin and about 40 percent are foreign. The U.S.-origin components consist of:

1. spring housing;
2. push rod;
3. return spring;
4. dust cap;
5. main spring;
6. clamp;
7. o'ring;
8. warning tag;
9. push rod plate;
10. diaphragm

The first phase of the assembly operation consists of the sub- assembly of an adapter base. According to Scott McElroy, operations manager of TSE Brakes, Inc., who spoke by telephone with a member of my staff, the housing and aluminum plates are powder coated in Mexico prior to assembly, while the spring located below the housing is powder coated in the U.S.

The powder coating process consists of a combination of pigment and epoxy. The parts are sprayed with the coating and then heated in an oven. The heating process causes the powder to melt and flow evenly across the metal parts and bond with the exposed parts of the premium spring brake. This process is performed to protect the brakes from salt and other highway cleaning solvents used for snow and ice removal. Only those spring brakes which are to be used in cold weather climates will undergo this process.

The next phase of the assembly process consists of positioning the spring housing into a single assembly press. The main spring is then placed into the spring housing. The press plate is placed onto the main spring in order to completely compress the main spring into the spring housing. A diaphragm is placed in the spring housing on top of the press plate. The pre-assembled adapter base is then placed onto the diaphragm. Clamps are positioned around the spring housing, and nuts and bolts are used to tighten them to approximately 25 pounds of torque. Warning tags are then slipped over the clamp bolts. A dust assembly cap is snapped onto the spring housing which completes the assembly of a single spring brake.

Although not stated in your ruling request, Mr. McElroy asked a member of my staff by telephone for a ruling concerning the applicability of subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS, to spring brakes not subjected to the powder coating operation.


Whether the spring brakes 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)rticles 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, 3
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 10.16(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 whether performed before, during, or after assembly, do not constitute further fabrication, and shall not preclude the application of the exemption. An example of an operation which is considered incidental to the assembly process is the application of preservative paint or coating, including preservative metallic coating, lubricants, or protective encapsulation. See, section 10.16(b)(3), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 10.16(b)(3)).

As to the assembly of spring brakes in this case, it is our opinion that the operations performed i mexico, whereby the U.S. components are securely joined together by force fitting and the use of nuts and bolts, are acceptable assembly operations. See, 19 CFR 10.16(a) and Headquarters Ruling Letters 555553 of April 11, 1990, 555564 of May 1, 1990 and 555765 of November 8, 1990.

During the instant assembly operations, the powder coating is applied as a preservative designed to protect the brakes from corrosion associated with salt and other road cleaning materials used to remove snow and ice. Sales brochures submitted with this request show that the spring brakes are advertised as containing corrosion protection. In addition, those spring brakes which are sold to areas where no snow and ice are expected are not powder coated. Thus, since the above cited regulation specifically enumerates preservative coating as an example of an operation incidental to assembly, we find that the powder coating of the housing and aluminum plates in Mexico is an acceptable incidental operation.


On the basis of the information presented, it is our opinion that the powder coating of the housing and aluminum plates is an operation incidental to acceptable assembly operations for the spring brakes, and will not preclude subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS, treatment for these U.S.-origin components. Therefore, the U.S. components exported to Mexico for assembly into spring brakes will be entitled to duty allowances under subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS, when returned to the U.S., provided the documentation requirements of 19 CFR 10.24 are met.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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