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NY B81529

January 28, 1997

MAR-2-:RR:NC:SP:233 B81529


Mr. John B. Rehm
Mr. Munford Page Hall, II
Mr. Robert W. Bras
Dorsey & Whitney LLP
Suite 200
1330 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036

RE: The country of origin marking of class rings imported from Mexico.

Dear Messrs. Rehm, Hall, and Bras:

In your letter dated January 22, 1997, on behalf of Jostens Inc. ("Jostens"), you requested a ruling on the country of origin marking for class rings.

Jostens manufactures and sells, among other products, class rings. These class rings consist of a metal ring, of either precious or non-precious metal, which may or may not incorporate a semi-precious or precious stone (e.g., diamonds, garnets). These rings are engraved with school names, insignia and graduation dates. Although Jostens now manufactures these rings in the United States, the company intends to shift some of the assembly and finishing processes to Mexico. Jostens plans to ship the unfinished ring (of U.S. origin), or the unfinished ring (of U.S. origin) together with a stone to be inserted (of U.S. or foreign origin), to Mexico, where the stone will, in some cases, be assembled with the ring and the ring will be "finished". The finished ring will then be shipped back into the United States, where it will undergo additional final processing in preparation for its ultimate sale.

The rings are made in the United States using the injection molding technique, similar to creating a sculpture (lost wax method). The rings are returned to the United States where they are engraved, inspected and packaged.

You have proposed that the country of origin of the rings, when exported to Mexico for assembly and/or finishing, is the United States. Upon entry into Mexico, the stones to be assembled with the rings in Mexico, together with the rings, constitute an "unassembled ring" under the meaning of General Rule of Interpretation ("GRI") 2(a) of the Harmonized Tariff System ("HTS"). The stones, therefore, enter Mexico under the same tariff provisions as their accompanying rings. The country of origin upon importation into the United States of the assembled and/or finished rings remains the United States because, under the NAFTA rules of origin: (1) neither of the operations performed in Mexico, namely the assembly of the stone into the ring (where applicable) and the finishing of the rings, causes the rings to undergo the required shift in tariff classification such that the country of origin would have changed from the United States; and (2) the essential character of the ring as imported into the United States is imparted by the ring itself. Under the NAFTA marking rules, therefore, the country of origin of the rings is the United States.

You have cited the Federal Register dated June 6, 1996, pp. 28935 and 28936: "While U.S. Note 2(a), Subchapter II, Chapter 98, HTSUS, does provide that any product of the United States advanced in value or improved in condition, or assembled abroad, will be considered a foreign article upon its return to the United States, Customs has reconsidered the position that this Note applies for general country of origin purposes. Therefore, once ?10.22 and ?102.14 of the interim regulations are removed, all rulings based on those regulations may no longer be relied upon. Accordingly, goods of U.S. origin which are assembled abroad or otherwise advanced in value or improved in condition abroad, but which do not undergo a change in origin as a result of these operations, will not be required to have any country of origin marking pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1304 when they are imported into the United States."

Based on this change and the fact that no tariff shift occurs, the country of origin of the rings is the United States. The rings and their packaging are not required to be marked to identify a country other than the United States as the country of origin.

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

A copy of the ruling or the control number indicated above should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If you have any questions regarding the ruling, contact National Import Specialist Lawrence Mushinske at 212-466-5739.


Gwenn Klein Kirschner

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