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NY D83579

November 13, 1998

MAR-2-95:RR:NC:2:224 D83579


Robert L. Follick
Follick & Bessich
One Exchange Place, Suite 915
Jersey City NJ 07302

RE: Country of origin marking requirements for fishing flies.

Dear Mr. Follick:

This is in response to your letters of September 29 and August 13, 1998, requesting a ruling on the country of origin marking requirements for imported fishing flies. A marked sample was submitted with your letter for review.

The merchandise consists of different fishing fly lures made up with various combinations of furs, feathers, tinsel, thread, and imitation body parts that are hand-tied or wound around fish hooks of various sizes. The fishing flies resemble a number of different insects at different stages of their life cycles. They will be manufactured in Guatemala, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the United States and some of the various patterns are manufactured in more than one country. The flies will be imported in hundreds of patterns with each pattern available in various sizes.

The applicable subheading for fishing flies is 9507.90.7000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States, which provides for fishing rods, fish hooks and other line fishing tackle; other: other, including parts and accessories: artificial baits and flies. The rate of duty is 9 percent ad valorem.

You state that subsequent to receipt at the importer's domestic facilities, the flies are commingled as a consequence of being placed in inventory by type, color, model, etc. The flies are sold either from bins at the importer's retail store or individually, as parts of fly fishing kits or as sets through your client's catalog of hunting and fishing equipment. When sold at retail, the flies are displayed in cabinets divided into small bins between two to four inches square. There are approximately 100 to 150 bins at the point of sale. Purchasers have access to the bins to facilitate examination of the individual flies for quality and appeal.

The marking statute, section 304, Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), provides that, unless excepted, every article of foreign origin (or its container) imported into the United States shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly and permanently as the nature of the article (or its 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.

Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), sets forth regulations implementing the country of origin marking requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C 1304. Both the law and the regulations provide that whenever an article is excepted from the marking requirements, the immediate container of the article shall be marked to indicate to an ultimate purchaser in the U.S. the English name of the country of origin of the article.

Strict compliance with the marking statute would require that each individual fly be marked to indicate its country of origin. But we believe that requiring individual marking of fishing flies under these circumstances is unrealistic. Utilizing methods of individual marking such as marking the fly with an adhesive label, a string tag or packaging the fly in its own marked plastic bag are impractical since they damage and otherwise render the flies unattractive and unacceptable to retailers, dealers and consumers.

Customs recognized this problem in its ruling Letter 731084 dated March 4, 1988, wherein it was acknowledged that individual marking of imported fishing flies was impractical in certain circumstances. It was ruled that the flies subject of that ruling were exempt from individual marking requirements provided the containers or holders in which the flies reached the ultimate purchaser were properly marked to indicate the country of origin of the flies.

In that ruling, the Customs Service recognized the fishing fly industry's good faith compliance with individual fly marking and the undesired side effects such compliance produced and opined that the industry had demonstrated the extraordinary circumstances which must be present in order to permit an exception to the rule of individual marking.

Based on the assorted market evidence here, we believe similar circumstances presented by the commodity and distribution exist. Strict compliance with the requirement that a fishing fly article be marked with its specific country of origin would be damaging, wasteful and ill-founded, in effect, economically prohibitive. Alternative methods should be approved. See 19 C.F.R.134.32(a). Therefore, pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1304(b) and 134.22, Customs Regulations, the outermost container or holder in which the flies reach the ultimate purchaser shall be marked to indicate the country of origin of the flies.

Further, taking into account the multiple origin sourcing of fishing flies and the domestic grouping and commingling of disparate fly patterns and different pattern sizes from multiple sources practiced by your client, Customs will accept a general marking statement that identifies the possible foreign sources, believed to be Guatemala, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand, from which the flies in a container or holder may have originated. This statement should be on a easily readable label placed in a conspicuous location on either a box containing the assortment sets or kits, on a blister pack of flies, on the copy printed in the client's catalogs or in the immediate containers in which flies are shipped to catalog customers, and on the bins (or the signs posted in close proximity to the bins) maintained in the importer's retail store(s) or specialty shops.

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 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 Tom McKenna at 212-466-5475.


Robert B. Swierupski
National Commodity

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