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NY B84285

May 22, 1997

CLA-2-98:RR:NC:2:227 B84285


TARIFF NO.: 9802.00.50

Ms. Robyn M. Garvin
Deloitte & Touche LLP
1000 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90017-2472

RE: Applicability of duty exemption under subheading 9802.00.50, HTS, to ceramic tile.

Dear Ms. Garvin:

In your letter dated April 7, 1997, on behalf of Ceramicus, Inc., you requested a ruling on the applicability of the duty exemption available under subheading 9802.00.50, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), for ceramic tile returned to the United States after being decorated and fired in the United Kingdom.

You state that glazed ceramic wall tiles, produced in the United States, will be sent to the United Kingdom to be decorated. The decoration will consist of various patterns and colors silk-screened onto the tiles. Following the silk-screening, the tiles will be fired in a kiln. The tiles will then be repackaged in commercial packing ready to be sold and will be returned to the United States.

You maintain that the silk screening and firing performed in the United Kingdom to the tiles should be considered acceptable alterations within the provisions of 9802.00.50, HTS. Your contention is on the basis that decorating the tiles in the United Kingdom in no way changed the quality, texture or use of the tiles.

Articles returned to the United States after having been exported to be advanced in value or improved in condition by repairs or alterations may qualify for the partial duty exemption under subheading 9802.00.50, HTS, provided the foreign operation does not destroy the identity of the exported articles or create new or different articles through a process of manufacture. However, entitlement to this tariff treatment is precluded where the exported articles are incomplete for their intended use prior to the foreign processing, Guardian Industries Corp. v. United States, 3 CIT 9 (1982), or where the foreign operation constitutes an intermediate processing operation, which is performed as a matter of course in the preparation or the manufacture of finished articles. Dolliff & Company, Inc. v. United States, C.D. 4755, 81 Cust. Ct. 1, 455 F. Supp. 618 (1978), aff'd, C.A.D. 1225, 66 CCPA 77, 599 F. Supp. (1979).

With regards to the facts presented and consistent with the cases above, we are of the opinion that the extensive processing abroad does not constitute repairs or alterations within the meaning of subheading 9802.00.50. We find that the tiles exported to the United Kingdom are incomplete for their intended use and that the silk-screen decorating and firing of the tiles are necessary manufacturing steps to finish the tiles for their intended use as decorated tiles when returned to the United States. Consequently, the tiles are not entitled to subheading 9802.00.50, HTS, treatment.

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

A copy of the ruling letter 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 George Kalkines at (212) 466-5794.


Gwenn Klein Kirschner
Chief, Special Products Branch

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