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HQ 558847

February 15, 1995

CA-2 CORDS 558847 WAS


Mr. Stan Wojciechowski
American Falcon International, Inc.
10 Foster Ave., Suite B-2
Gibbsboro, N.J. 08026

RE: Country of origin marking of rigid steel conduits and fittings externally coated with polyvinyl chloride; 733579; 733579; 732652; 731652; 734270; 134.44(b); 134.42(m)

Dear Mr. Wojciechowski:

This is in reference to your letter dated October 14, 1994, in which you seek information with respect to the appropriate country of origin marking of rigid steel conduits and fittings which are coated with polyvinyl chloride in Saudi Arabia. You have submitted a catalog which further explains and illustrates the polyvinyl chloride coating operation for our review.


You state that rigid steel conduits which are manufactured in Korea will be shipped to Saudi Arabia where they will undergo a polyvinyl chloride coating operation. You submit that the thickness of the coating ranges from 250 microns to 10mm, and the diameter sizes range from 3/4 of an inch to 6 inches, depending upon customer specification. The conduits will be dipped in the coating material in a process referred to as "fluidized bed" coating. You state that various sizes and types of fittings (e.g., junction boxes, conduit connectors) will also be shipped to Saudi Arabia for a coating process. The fittings will be produced in the U.S. and shipped to Saudi Arabia for the sole purpose of being coated and they will subsequently be returned to the U.S. You claim that the purpose of the coating is to allow for the conduits and fittings to be used in hazardous sites; refineries; deserts; extreme temperature change environments, as well as to protect internal wiring from such hazards to ensure operational continuity. You further state that the conduits are rigid and that you plan to package the conduits in bulk form on pallets. The fittings will also be packed in bulk after the coating process. You state that the conduits and fittings may be shipped in exclusive containers or as "loose cargo" (LCL cargo). In addition, you submit that the coater/manufacturer has stated that marking each item with the country of origin is prohibitive due to the nature of the coating process as described above. Instead, you request to be allowed to mark the articles with a self-adhesive sticker/label which indicates the country of origin after the coating process is completed.


What are the country of origin marking requirements for steel conduits and fittings which are manufactured in Korea and the U.S. and shipped to Saudi Arabia for a coating operation, as described above?


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 its 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. Congressional intent in enacting 19 U.S.C. 1304 was "that the ultimate purchaser should be able to know by an inspection of the marking on the imported goods the country of which the good is the product. The evident purpose is to mark the goods so that at the time of purchase the ultimate purchaser may, by knowing where the goods were produced, be able to buy or refuse to buy them, if such marking should influence his will." United States v. Friedlander & Co., 27 C.C.P.A. 297 at 302; C.A.D. 104 (1940).

Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and the exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304. Section 134.1(b), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.1(b)), defines "country of origin" as the country of manufacture, production or growth of any article of foreign origin entering the U.S. Further work or material added to an article in another country must effect a substantial transformation in order to render such other country the "country of origin" within the meaning of the marking laws and regulations. The case of U.S. v. Gibson-Thomsen Co., Inc., 27 C.C.P.A. 267 (C.A.D. 98) (1940), provides that an article used in manufacture which results in an article having a name, character or use differing from that of the constituent article will be considered substantially transformed.

In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 733579 dated August 20, 1990, we considered whether formed pots and pans, imported from Venezuela to be further manufactured into finished pots and pans by operations consisting of deburring, polishing, painting, coating with a non-stick surface, and attaching handles, were substantially transformed within the meaning of section 134.35, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.35), and found that they were not, as the U.S. manufacturing process constituted a minor operation which left the identity of the imported article intact. Customs further found in HRL 733579 that the only change in character took place as a result of the coating of the surface of the already formed pot or pan, and that, while a non-stick pan may be more convenient to clean, it still retains its use as a cooking implement. Therefore, we determined that the domestic processing constituted merely finishing and coating operations, which did not create a new article with a new name, character or use. See also HRLs 732652 dated June 20, 1990 (bakeware manufactured in Canada and imported to be silicone coated not substantially transformed as the coating operation constituted a minor finishing operation); HRL 731652 dated February 16, 1989 (finished forged components of lawn cutting tools were merely enhanced by having their handles plastic coated; no new article was created); and HRL 734270 dated December 11, 1991 (porcelain coating does not substantially transform uncoated grill racks into articles having a different name, character or use). In the instant case, we find that, consistent with the above-cited rulings, the coating process performed in Saudi Arabia does not substantially transform the steel conduits and fittings into a product of Saudi Arabia. The coating operation is considered to be a finishing operation which does not result in a change in the name, character or use of the steel conduits or fittings. Accordingly, as the steel conduits have not undergone a substantial transformation in Saudi Arabia, they must be marked at the time of importation into the U.S. to indicate their Korean origin. Likewise, as the coating operation does not constitute a substantial transformation, the country of origin of the fittings which are produced in the U.S. remains the U.S.

Section 134.41(b), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.41(b)), provides that the marking of an imported product must be conspicuous enough so that the ultimate purchaser will be able to find the marking easily and read it without strain. With regard to the permanency of a marking 19 CFR 134.41(a), provides that, as a general rule, marking requirements are best met by marking worked into the article at the time of manufacture. However, section 134.44, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.44), provides that except for articles which are the subject of a ruling by the Commissioner of Customs or those articles described in section 134.43, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.43) (not applicable here), any marking that is sufficiently permanent so that it will remain on the article until it reaches the ultimate purchaser, unless deliberately removed, is acceptable. Section 134.44(b), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.44(b)), provides that if paper sticker or pressure sensitive labels are used, they must be affixed in a conspicuous place and so securely that, unless deliberately removed, they will remain on the article while it is in storage or on display and until it is delivered to the ultimate purchaser.

With regard to the country of origin marking of the fittings, products of the U.S. that are exported and returned are excepted from country of origin marking requirements pursuant to 19 CFR 134.32(m). As the processing in Saudi Arabia does not substantially transform the fittings into a new and different article of commerce, pursuant to 19 CFR 134.32(m), this product will be exempt from country of origin marking requirements. As a matter of policy, a determination as to whether the packaged fittings may be marked "Made in the U.S.A." is within the province of the Federal Trade Commission. We recommend that you contact that agency at 6th and Pennsylvania Avenues, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20508, before you undertake to mark the packaged fittings.


The coating operation performed in Saudi Arabia does not substantially transform the uncoated steel conduits and fittings. Accordingly, the country of origin of the imported coated steel conduits remains Korea and the country of origin of the imported coated fittings remains the U.S. Therefore, the steel conduits must be marked as to the foreign country of origin at the time they are imported into the U.S. to meet the marking requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 CFR Part 134. Pursuant to 19 CFR 134.44(b), if a paper sticker or pressure sensitive label is used to mark the merchandise it must be affixed in a conspicuous place and in a secure manner so that it will remain on the article while it is in storage or on display or until it reaches the ultimate purchaser. The steel fittings are excepted from the country of origin marking requirements pursuant to 19 CFR 134.32(m).

A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is entered. If the documents have been filed without a copy, this ruling should be brought to the attention of the Customs officer handling the transaction.


John Durant, Director

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