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December 2,

MAR-05 RR:TC:SM 560696 BLS


Port Director
Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 75261

RE: Request for internal advice (IA 27/97); country of origin marking of pipe fittings; special marking requirements; 19 U.S.C. 1304(c)(1)

Dear Sir:

This is in reference to your memorandum dated August 19, 1997, requesting internal advice in connection with a request from Davies, Turner & Co., customhouse broker ("Davies") on behalf of Waxman Industries, Inc. The issue concerns the country of origin marking requirements for certain steel pipe fittings, samples of which are submitted with the request.


The subject articles consist of pipe fittings described as follows:

Galvanized side outlet 90 degree elbows - « and 3/8 inch
Plugs - 3/8 and « inch
Unions - 3/8 inch
Bushings - 1 x 3/4 and 1/2 x 3/8 inch

Davies states that the articles are sold to mass merchandisers who require that the items be individually put up for retail sale in packages (sealed) bearing the UPC bar code. These packages will prominently display the country of origin to the ultimate purchaser. However, the pipe fittings themselves are not marked.

The broker believes that the marking on the containers satisfies the requirements of section 1304, Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304) and that any additional marking would be redundant.


What are the country of origin marking requirements for the imported pipe fittings?


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 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 goods 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 are produced, be able to buy or refuse to buy them, if such marking should influence his will." United States v. Friedlaender & Co, v. United States, 27 C.C.P.A. 297 at 302 (1940).

Special country of origin marking requirements apply to certain pipe and fittings. Specifically, section 207 of the Trade and Tariff Act of 1984, Pub. L. 98-573), 98 Stat. 2976 (1984), amended 19 U.S.C. 1304 to require "pipes ... [and] pipe fittings" of iron or steel to be marked to indicate the proper country of origin by means of die stamping, cast-in-mold lettering, etching, or engraving. 19 U.S.C. 1304(c). This provision further provides that no exception from these marking requirements may be made under 19 U.S.C. 1304(a)(3) for these products. Customs has determined that the requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304(c) are applicable to those articles which are considered pipes, pipe fittings, or tube fittings of iron and steel for classification purposes. See T.D. 86-15.

After the enactment of section 207, it was brought to the attention of Customs that certain pipe and pipe fittings of iron or steel could not be marked by any of these prescribed methods without rendering such article unfit for the purpose for which it was intended. In T.D. 86-15, certain categories are set forth which may be marked by alternative methods. For certain categories of articles, paint stenciling is the requisite method. For other categories, paint stenciling or tagging of the bundles or the containers is permitted. These categories, which include thin-walled pipes and fittings, small-diameter pipes and fittings, other fittings, line pipe, coated pipes, and spun iron pipe, are described in detail in T.D. 86-15. In addition,
ornamental pipes, tubes, and fittings of all types with a highly polished surface, are permitted to be marked by means of a durable and securely affixed tag or sticker, or by marking the protective wrapper.

In 1986, Congress enacted Pub. L. 99-514 which amended 19 U.S.C. 1304(c) to authorize such alternative methods of marking if, because of the nature of an article, it is technically or commercially infeasible to mark by one of the four originally prescribed methods. 19 U.S.C. 1304(c)(2) provided that in such case, "the article may be marked "by an equally permanent method of marking such as paint stenciling or in the case of small diameter pipe tube and fittings, by tagging the containers or bundles."

In order to carry out Congressional intent, on July 22, 1992, Customs published, in the Federal Register, T.D. 92-70, which amended T.D. 86-15 by permitting the country of origin marking of pipes, tubes, and fittings by tagging of bundles or containers only with respect to small diameter pipes, tubes, and fittings. T.D. 92-70 specifically stated that pipes, tubes and fittings which could not be marked by a prescribed method must be marked by "paint stenciling or an equally permanent method." The notice indicated that Customs does not consider tagging the containers or bundles an equally permanent marking method as paint stenciling. Therefore, marking pipes, tubes, and fittings by tagging the bundles or containers is acceptable only for small diameter products. In T.D. 86-15, Customs determined that small diameter products included fittings that have a nominal diameter of one-fourth inch or less and pipes with an inner diameter of 1.9 inches or less.
Customs recognized in T.D. 92-70 that there might be some cases where paint stenciling or an equally permanent method of marking could damage the product and render it unfit for the purpose it was intended. Customs indicated that in such instances it would consider alternative methods of marking on a case-by-case basis.

On December 8, 1993, as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement ("NAFTA") Implementation Act, Congress again amended the country of origin marking provisions on pipes, tubes and pipe fittings (Pub. L. No. 103-182) by adding a fifth acceptable statutory method of marking -- continuous paint stenciling. In addition, 19 U.S.C. 1304(c)(2) was amended by eliminating the reference in the statute which indicated that paint stenciling was an example of an equally permanent method of marking that could be used if it was technically or commercially infeasible to mark by one of the other statutory methods.

By enacting this amendment to 19 U.S.C. 1304(c), Congress reaffirmed its decision that pipes must be permanently marked by only certain methods. Only in cases where it is technically or commercially infeasible to mark by one of the five specified methods can an alternative be considered and that alternative must be equally as permanent. Furthermore, tagging bundles or containers will be acceptable only in the case of small diameter pipe, tube, and fittings.

The samples do not include any small diameter products, as the pipe fittings all measure 3/8 inch or more in size. Further, as several of the samples are already marked by die-stamping, we find no technical barrier to marking the samples by one of the five statutory methods on the unthreaded area of each of the fittings. There is no evidence that it is commercially infeasible to mark the products by one of the statutory methods. Accordingly, the pipe fittings in this case must be marked by one of the five statutory methods set forth in 19 U.S.C. 1304(c)(1).


In accordance with the requirements of section 304(c) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304(c)), the subject pipe fittings are required to be marked with the country of origin by die-stamping, cast-in-mold lettering, etching, engraving, or paint stenciling.

This decision should be mailed by your office to the internal advice requester no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. On that date the Office of Regulations and Rulings will take steps to make the decision available to Customs personnel via the Customs rulings Module in ACS and to the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, Freedom of Information Act and other public access channels.


Durant, Director

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