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NY B89079

September 26, 1997

CLA-2-90:RR:NC:1:119 B89079


TARIFF NO.: 9021.19.8500; 9802.00.50

Mr. David M. Murphy
Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz & Silverman LLP 245 Park avenue
New York, NY 10167-3397

RE: The tariff classification, country of origin marking and status under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), of orthodontic brackets from Mexico; Article 509; NAFTA Marking Rules (Final)

Dear Mr. Murphy:

In your letter dated August 22, 1997 you requested a ruling on the status of orthodontic brackets from Mexico under the NAFTA. The request is being made on behalf of Ormco Corporation, Glendora, CA.

The articles to be imported are orthodontic brackets for use as parts of orthodontic braces. You state that the brackets are produced by a process in which acrylic is poured over the wire base and that each bracket is designed for a specific tooth. The brackets are manufactured in the U.S. and sent to Mexico to be color coded with a variety of colors. Each color designates a specific tooth for which the bracket is designed. The color coded brackets are returned to the U.S. in unmarked tubular containers and repacked in small plastic boxes for sale to the ultimate purchaser.

The applicable tariff provision for the orthodontic brackets will be 9021.19.8500, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), which provides for artificial joints and other orthopedic or fracture appliances... other. The general rate of duty will be 2.3 percent.

Subheading 9802.00.50, HTS, provides for articles returned to the United States after having been exported to be advanced in value or improved in condition by any process of manufacture or other means: articles exported for repairs or alterations... other. You are of the opinion that the brackets would be eligible for partial duty exemption under this provision.

The brackets are very small and without the color coding would be difficult to work with. The color coding does in fact modify the "performance characteristics" of the brackets. It is hence part of the manufacturing process and not a repair or alteration of a finished product. Therefore the brackets would not be eligible for classification under 9802.00.50, HTS. See Dolliff and Company, Inc. V. United States, C.D. 4755, 455 F. Supp. 618 (1978), 599 F. 2d 1015 (1979) and Guardian Industries Corp. V. United States, 3 CIT 9 (1982). The ruling you cited, NY B87049 which dealt with the painting of golf club heads for cosmetic purposes only, can be distinguished from the case under consideration.

The orthodontic brackets, being made entirely in the territory of the United States and Mexico using materials which themselves were originating, will satisfy the requirements of HTSUSA General Note 12(b)(iii). The merchandise will therefore be entitled to a free rate of duty under the NAFTA upon compliance with all applicable laws, regulations and agreements.


We agree that the country of origin marking of the finished brackets is controlled by 19 C.F.R. Section 102.19(b) which states the following:

If, under any other provision of this part, the country of origin of a good which is originating within the meaning of Section 181.1(q) of this chapter is determined to be the United States and that good has been exported from, and returned to, the United States after having been advanced in value or improved in condition in another NAFTA country, the country of origin of such good for Customs duty purposes is the last NAFTA country in which that good was advanced in value or improved in condition before its return to the United States.

For marking purposes therefore the country of origin of the color coded brackets is Mexico. Since your client plans to repackage the brackets after importation, the certification procedure of 19 C.F.R. Section 134.26 will have to be followed. You did not furnish a sample of the repackaged brackets destined for sale in the U.S., we therefore cannot state if the marking your client intends to use will be in compliance with the Regulations.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 181 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 181). .

This ruling letter is binding only as to the party to whom it is issued and may be relied on only by that party.

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 Jacques Preston at 212-466-5488.


Robert B. Swierupski

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