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HQ 957759

June 13, 1995

CLA R:C:T 957759 jb


Josefa M. Dizon
Embassy of the Philippines
1600 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington D.C. 20036

RE: Country of origin determination for wedding dress; 19 CFR 12.130 (b)(d)(e); sewing constitutes substantial assembly

Dear Ms. Dizon:

This letter is in response to your inquiry of March 10, 1995, on behalf of Mr. Joel S. Rodriguez, Manager of the Apparel & Accessories Merchandising Dept., Philippine International Trading Corporation, requesting a country of origin determination for a wedding dress. A sample wedding dress was submitted to this office for examination.


The wedding dress is made of 100 percent woven polyester and nylon fabrics with heavy beading around the neckline, shoulder, sleeves, bodice and the lower front center panel. The dress also features tapered lace with beading along the bottom of the dress and train.

The processing of the garment is as follows:

- Fabric and laces are made either in Japan or Hong Kong, and sent to China for cutting;
- The cut pieces are shipped to the Philippines for hand and machine embroidery (of laces, sleeves, bodice, skirt and train), assembly, sewing and hand finishing; - The merchandise is then pressed, hangtags and labels are attached and packaged for exportation to the U.S.


What is the country of origin of the merchandise at issue?


Section 12.130 of the Customs Regulations (19 CFR 12.130) sets forth the principles of country of origin for textiles and textile products subject to Section 204 of the Agricultural Act of 1956, as amended (7 U.S.C. 1854).

Pursuant to 19 CFR 12.130(b), the standard of substantial transformation governs the country of origin determination where textiles and textile products are processed in more than one country. The country of origin of textile products is deemed to be that foreign territory or country where the article last underwent a substantial transformation. Substantial transformation is said to occur when the article has been transformed into a new and different article of commerce by means of substantial manufacturing or processing.

The factors to be applied in determining whether or not a manufacturing operation is substantial are set forth in 19 CFR 12.130(d). Section 12.130(e)(1) describes manufacturing or processing operations from which an article will usually be considered a product of the country in which those operations occurred. Section 12.130(e)(1)(iv) provides that an article or material usually will be a product of a particular foreign territory or country when there has been both a cutting of fabric into parts and the assembly of those parts into the completed article.

Section 12.130(e)(1)(v) states that an article will be a product of a particular foreign country, when it has undergone prior to importation into the U.S. in that foreign country:

Substantial assembly by sewing and/or tailoring of all cut pieces of apparel articles which have been cut from fabric in another foreign territory or country, or insular possession, into a completed garment (e.g., the complete assembly of all cut pieces of suit-type jackets, suits and shirts).

We have previously held that cutting of fabric into pattern pieces constitutes a substantial transformation of the fabric, resulting in the apparel pieces becoming a product of the country where the fabric is cut. Customs has also held that the mere assembly of goods entailing simple combining operations, trimming or joining together by sewing is not enough to substantially transform the components of an article into a new and different article of commerce. (See HQ 082747, dated February 23, 1989; HQ 086665, dated March 23, 1990; HQ 951169, dated April 1, 1992; HQ 951437, dated July 17, 1992).

It is our opinion that the assembly operations performed in the Philippines go beyond simple assembly operations. The different levels of assembly, such as embroidery, sewing and hand finishing involve the complexity contemplated by Section 12.130(e)(1)(v), as for example, that found in the assembly and tailoring of all cut pieces of suit-type jackets, suits and shirts. See also HQ 954475 dated October 21, 1993 and HQ 957309, dated March 9, 1995, where wedding dresses were determined to be the product of the country in which the assembly occurred.

The assembly executed in the Philippines materially changes the garment from the constituent garment parts to the finished product by means of a substantial assembly and constitutes a substantial transformation in the country of assembly. The manufacturing operations fall squarely within the language of Section 12.120(e)(1)(v).


The country of origin of the submitted merchandise is the Philippines. It is at the assembly process, in the Philippines that the textile product undergoes a substantial transformation and is transformed into a new and different article of commerce.

The holding set forth above applies only to the specific factual situation and merchandise identified in the ruling request. This position is clearly set forth in Section 177.9(b)(1), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 177.9(b)(1)). This section states that a ruling letter is issued on the assumption that all of the information furnished in the ruling letter, either directly, by reference, or by implication, is accurate and complete in every material respect.

Should it be subsequently determined that the information furnished is not complete and does not comply with 19 CFR 177.9(b)(1), the ruling will be subject to modification or revocation. In the event there is a change in the facts previously furnished this may affect the determination of country of origin. Accordingly, it is recommended that a new ruling request be submitted in accordance with Section 177.2, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 177.2).


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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