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HQ 960103

June 19, 1997

CLA-2 RR:TC:MM 960103 DWS


TARIFF NO.: 8516.90.50

Ms. Fusae Nara
Donovan Leisure Newton & Irvine
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112

RE: Microwave Oven Panel Assemblies; HQ 957727; NAFTA; General Notes 12(b) and
12(t)/85.49; 8537.10.30; 8534.00.00; 8536; 8541

Dear Ms. Nara:

This is in response to letters dated December 21, 1996, from your client, INOAC Packaging Group Inc., and June 17, April 25, May 16, and March 4, 1997, from you on behalf of your client, concerning the applicability of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to and the classification of microwave oven panel assemblies under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). We regret the delay of our response.


The merchandise consists of microwave oven panel assemblies (Part #CPNLCB168MRKO), each of which is composed of two printed wiring boards (PWBs), a liquid crystal display (LCD) and a key sheet. These items are encased in a plastic housing which also houses the door latch for the microwave oven.

The smaller PWB, which will be imported into Mexico from a non-NAFTA country, is a printed circuit upon which a large-scale integrated circuit (LSI) and a number of active elements are mounted. In addition, two connectors are mounted on the LSI board. One of the connectors is a ribbon connector which fastens the LSI board to a seven character LCD, which functions as a display panel of a finished microwave oven to indicate time, feature, etc. The other connector is a 12-pin connector which connects the LSI board to the second PWB described below. The larger PWB is assembled in Mexico from a bare PWB which is imported from a non-NAFTA country. Upon this PWB, a number of elements, including relays, connectors, and a transformer, all of which are non-originating for NAFTA purposes, will be mounted in Mexico.

The LSI board and the larger PWB will then be soldered together and placed in the plastic housing with a key sheet, through which an oven user can input data for operation of the oven. The plastic housing is manufactured from plastic resin in Mexico. The completed panel assembly will then be imported into the U.S. for installation into finished microwave ovens.


Whether the microwave oven panel assemblies are classifiable under subheading 8537.10.30, HTSUS, as a control panel assembled with an outer housing for the goods of heading 8516, HTSUS, or under subheading 8516.90.50, HTSUS, as parts of microwave ovens of subheading 8516.50.

Whether the microwave oven panel assemblies are eligible for preferential treatment under the NAFTA.



Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides that classification is determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

8537.10.30: [b]oards, panels, consoles, desks, cabinets and other bases, equipped with two or more apparatus of heading
8535 or 8536, for electric control or the distribution of electricity, including those incorporating instruments of chapter 90, and numerical control apparatus, other than switching apparatus of heading
8517: [f]or a voltage not exceeding
1,000 V: [a]ssembled with outer housing or supports, for the goods of headings 8421, 8422, 8450 or 8516.

8516.90.50: [e]lectric instantaneous or storage water heaters and immersion heaters; electric space heating apparatus and soil heating apparatus; electrothermic hairdressing apparatus
(for example, hair dryers, hair curlers, curling tong heaters) and hand dryers; electric flatirons; other electrothermic appliances of a kind used for domestic purposes; electric heating resistors, other than those of heading 8545; parts thereof: [p]arts: [p]arts for the microwave ovens of subheading
8516.50: [o]ther.

8534.00.00: [p]rinted circuits.

8536: [e]lectrical apparatus for switching or protecting electrical circuits, or for making connections to or in electrical circuits (for example, switches, relays, fuses, surge suppressors, plugs, sockets, lamp-holders, junction boxes), for a voltage not exceeding 1,000 V.

8541: [d]iodes, transistors and similar semiconductor devices; photosensitive semiconductor devices, including photovoltaic cells whether or not assembled in modules or made up into panels; light-emitting diodes; mounted piezoelectric crystals; parts thereof.

Before we ascertain whether the panel assemblies are eligible for preferential treatment under the NAFTA, we must first determine their classification under the HTSUS.

In HQ 957727, dated October 3, 1995, we held that central processing unit (CPU) boards for microwave ovens were classifiable under heading 8537, HTSUS. The boards in that ruling consisted of many of the components which are contained within the subject panel assemblies. After importation into the U.S., each board was attached to a plastic panel with circuits, numbered pads and a ribbon connector.

The subject merchandise is distinguishable from the merchandise which was the subject of HQ 957727. Although subheading 8537.10.30, HTSUS, specifically provides for panels assembled with housings, it is our position that the presence of the microwave oven door latch with the assembly progresses the assembly so that it is no longer recognizable as a heading 8537, HTSUS, control panel, but is recognizable as a part of a microwave oven. Once imported into the U.S., the subject panel assemblies will consist of the control panel, the oven door latch, encased in a housing shaped for immediate incorporation into a microwave oven. The CPU boards in HQ 957727 were at a far less developed stage than the subject merchandise and, therefore, for tariff classification purposes, are not similar to the panel assemblies.

As the panel assemblies are not classifiable under heading 8537, HTSUS, and are not described elsewhere in the HTSUS except as parts of microwave ovens, they are classifiable under subheading 8516.90.50, HTSUS. See section XVI, note 2(b), HTSUS.


To be eligible for tariff preferences under the NAFTA, goods must be "originating goods" within the rules of origin in general note 12(b), HTSUS, which, in part, states that:

[f]or the purposes of this note, goods imported into the customs territory of the
United States are eligible for the tariff treatment and quantitative limitations set forth in the tariff schedule as "goods originating in the territory of a NAFTA party" only if --

(i) they are goods wholly obtained or produced entirely in the territory of Canada,
Mexico, and/or the United States; or

(ii) they have been transformed in the territory of Canada, Mexico and/or the United
States so that --

(A) except as provided in subdivision (f) of this note, each of the non-originating materials used in the production of such goods undergoes a change in tariff classification described in subdivisions (r), (s) and (t) of this note; . . .

Because the panel assemblies contain parts from countries other than Mexico, Canada and/or the U.S., general note 12(b)(i), HTSUS, does not apply. Therefore, we must resort to general note

General note 12(t)/85.49, HTSUS, states:

49. A change to subheading 8516.90 from any other heading.

Therefore, for the panel assemblies to be originating for NAFTA purposes, all non-originating components of the panel assemblies must be classifiable under any heading of the HTSUS other than heading 8516, HTSUS.

Because the LSI board possesses two connectors which are classifiable under heading 8536, HTSUS, and controls the operation of the microwave, it is our position that it is classifiable under heading 8537, HTSUS.

You make the following claims as to the classification of the non-originating components: the bare printed circuit from which the larger PWB is produced is classifiable under heading 8534.00.00, HTSUS; the active and passive elements and transformer mounted on the larger PWB are classifiable under heading 8541, HTSUS; and the relays are classifiable with the connectors under heading 8536, HTSUS.

If, as you claim, all the non-originating components of the panel assemblies are classifiable under headings other than heading 8516, HTSUS, they undergo the required tariff shift to subheading 8516.90, HTSUS, and the panel assemblies satisfy the requirement of general note 12(t)/85.49, HTSUS, and qualify as originating goods for NAFTA purposes.


The microwave oven panel assemblies are classifiable under subheading 8516.90.50, HTSUS, as parts of microwave ovens of subheading 8516.50.

The microwave oven panel assemblies are eligible for preferential treatment under the NAFTA.


John Durant, Director
Tariff Classification Appeals

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