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NY 806757

March 1, 1995

MAR-2 S:N:N8:230 806757


Ms. Jennifer Scott
Expeditors International of Washington, Inc. 19119 16th Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98188


Dear Ms. Scott:

This is in response to your letter dated February 1, 1995 requesting a ruling on whether imported totem poles are required to be individually marked with the country of origin if they are later to be processed in the U.S. by a U.S. manufacturer. The request was made on behalf of the importer, Ivory Jacks Trading Company of Seattle, Washington. Three samples showing the different stages of production of the totem poles were submitted. They will be returned to you as you requested.

The first sample consists of a rough sawn square piece of wood measuring approximately 2-1/4 inch square by 18 inches long. According to the importer the wood is yellow cedar grown and milled in Alaska. The yellow cedar blocks are sent to Indonesia where they are handcarved into totem poles.

The second sample which represents the imported article consists of a carved 18 inch high totem pole. Totem pole figures are carved in the front and side of the totem pole but the back of the pole is uncarved except for a slightly concave curve. A small sticker containing the words "Made in Indonesia" and some numbers is attached to the back. The totem poles are copies of a Native American totem pole on display in the Alaska State Museum. A handcarved model of the museum piece was made by an American carver and was supplied to Indonesia.

The third sample represents the article after additional processing in the United States. It consists of the same imported totem pole with the carved figures partially painted and with a 3/4 inch high by 3-3/4 inch square wood base attached. The back is not painted and the sticker has been removed. The importer states that the painting is done in Alaska and that the
wood base is of Alaskan origin. Because of this final processing in the U.S. the importer believes that the article has been transformed and is no longer a product of Indonesia.

The marking statute, section 304, Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), provides that, unless excepted, every article of foreign origin (or its container) 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.

Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304. Section 134.41(b), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.41(b)), mandates that the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. must be able to find the marking easily and read it without strain. Section 134.1(d), defines the ultimate purchaser as generally the last person in the U.S. who will receive the article in the form in which it was imported. 19 CFR 134.1(d)(1) states that if an imported article will be used in manufacture, the manufacturer may be the ultimate purchaser if he subjects the imported article to a process which results in a substantial transformation of the article. 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 and that the manufacturer or processor will be considered the ultimate purchaser of the constituent materials. See, 19 CFR 134.35.

In this case, however, the imported totem poles are not substantially transformed as a result of the U.S. processing. The partial painting and the simple assembly of a base are finishing operations which do not result in articles having a different name, character or use. As stated in 19 CFR 134.1(d)(2), if the manufacturing process is merely a minor one which leaves the identity of the imported article intact, the consumer or user of the article, who obtains the article after the processing, will be regarded as the ultimate purchaser. The identity of the imported totem poles is clearly evident after the U.S. processing. Therefore, the country of origin marking "Made in Indonesia" must remain on the imported article for the ultimate purchaser, the consumer.

Special marking regulations apply for Native American-style arts and crafts, which are defined as arts and crafts which incorporate traditional Native American design motifs, materials or construction and therefore look like, and could possibly be mistaken for, arts and crafts made by Native Americans (19 CFR

134.43(d)(1)). Native American-style arts and crafts must be indelibly marked with the country of origin by means of cutting, die-sinking, engraving, stamping, or some other equally permanent method (19 CFR 134.43(d)(2)).

Noting these special marking regulations, the paper sticker on the imported sample is not an acceptable method of marking the Native American-style totem poles. The back of the totem pole is capable of being marked in the manner required by 19 CFR

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 177).

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.


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