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NY F87127

June 12, 2000

MAR-2 RR:NC:2: 238 F87127


Mr. James Wickstead
PBB Global Logistics
434 Delaware Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14202-1515


Dear Mr. Wickstead:

This is in response to your letter dated May 15, 2000, on behalf of your client, Micris One, Inc., requesting a ruling on the tariff classification of and country of origin marking requirements for an imported first-aid kit. A marked sample was submitted with your inquiry.

The submitted sample, the ABC First Aid Kit (Item #101053), consists of a black nylon pouch, with a zipper closure and a textile handle, put up in a transparent, heat-sealed polybag. The polybag bears a printed label (in English), with black lettering, showing, among other things, the item number (i.e., “101053”), code (i.e., “F/A”), and description (i.e., “First Aid Kit with case - 60pc”). The label also itemizes the contents of the kit and the country of origin of each component. The nylon pouch contains the following items: an instant cold pack (referred to as a “cold compress”); two 2” x 3” plain dressings (referred to as ”Non-Adherent Pad(s)”); twenty ¾” x 3” adhesive strips; two povidone-iodine U.S.P. prep pads; three alcohol prep pads; three medicated sting-relief pads; two ½” x 3½” pieces of flesh-colored adhesive strips (referred to as “eye strips”); two 6” tongue depressors; two safety pins; a multilingual first-aid instruction card; three benzalkonium chloride towelettes (referred to as “bzk towelettes”); a small, resealable bag containing ten small pieces of rayon wadding (referred to as “rayon balls”); one packet containing two 2” x 2” sterile gauze sponges (referred to as “gauze pads”); one foil packet containing povidone-iodine ointment (referred to as “iodine ointment”); and five ” x 1" sterile adhesive-bandage strips (referred to as “adhesive snips”).

The nylon pouch is manufactured in China; the instant cold pack (“cold compress”), ¾” x 3” adhesive strips, “eye strips,” tongue depressors, safety pins, first-aid instruction card, “rayon balls,” and ” x 1" sterile adhesive-bandage strips (“adhesive snips”) are manufactured in Canada; and the 2” x 3” non-adherent pads, iodine prep pads, alcohol prep pads, sting relief pads, bzk towelettes, gauze pads, and the foil packet of iodine ointment are manufactured in the United States. You state in your letter that the items of U.S. manufacture are imported into Canada, where, along with those items of Canadian manufacture, they are packed inside the Chinese-manufactured pouch. Upon completion of the packing operation, the zipper is closed, and the pouch is placed into the polybag, which is then heat-sealed. The heat-sealed polybags are then shipped to the U.S., where (according to a telephone conversation between your client and a member of my staff, on June 8, 2000) they are offered, without being subjected to any additional packing operation(s), for retail sale.

With respect to the tariff classification, the applicable subheading for the subject product will be 3006.50.0000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), which provides for: “[F]irst-aid boxes and kits.” The general rate of duty will be free.

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 U.S. 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) implements the country of origin marking requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304.

The country of origin marking requirements for a "good of a NAFTA country" are also determined in accordance with Annex 311 of the North American Free Trade Agreement ("NAFTA"), as implemented by section 207 of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat 2057) (December 8, 1993) and the appropriate Customs Regulations. The Marking Rules used for determining whether a good is a good of a NAFTA country are contained in Part 102, Customs Regulations. The marking requirements of these goods are set forth in Part 134, Customs Regulations.

Section 134.45(a)(2) of the regulations, provides that "a good of a NAFTA country may be marked with the name of the country of origin in English, French or Spanish. Section 134.1(g) of the regulations, defines a "good of a NAFTA country" as an article for which the country of origin is Canada, Mexico or the United States as determined under the NAFTA Marking Rules.

In the instant case, you state that U.S. components and Chinese components are exported to a NAFTA country (i.e., Canada), where, along with components of Canadian origin, they are packaged together to form the subject first-aid kits imported into the U.S. In our opinion, the mere act of packaging the various components together to form the complete first-aid kit does not constitute an assembly operation - simple or otherwise. Sections 10.12(b) and 102.1(o), Customs Regulations. Rather, we find that merely packaging the components of the kit together constitutes nothing more than “minor processing.” Section 102.1(m)(6), Customs Regulations. Furthermore, we note that Section 102.17, Customs Regulations (“Non-qualifying operations”) clearly states that “[A] foreign material shall not be considered to have undergone the applicable change in tariff classification specified in Section 102.20 or Section 102.21 or to have met any other applicable requirements of those sections merely by reason of one or more of the following: “(c) Simple packing, repacking or retail packaging without more than minor processing.”

The rules for determining when, for marking purposes, the country of origin of an imported good is one of the parties to "NAFTA" are set forth in Part 102, Customs Regulations.

Part 102 of the regulations, sets forth the "NAFTA Marking Rules" for purposes of determining whether a good is a good of a NAFTA country for marking purposes. Section 102.11 of the regulations, sets forth the required hierarchy for determining country of origin for marking purposes.

Applying the NAFTA Marking Rules set forth in Part 102 of the regulations to the facts of this case, we find that, since the good is specifically described in the Harmonized System as a set [i.e., “First-aid boxes and kits” (emphasis added)], Section 102.11(c) is the rule that must be applied to the imported goods. Under this rule, the country of origin of the good is the country or countries of origin of all materials that merit equal consideration for determining the essential character of the good. All of the components of the kit, foreign and domestic, must be considered. In this case, in our opinion, all of the items comprising the kit merit equal consideration in determining the essential character of the first-aid kit. Therefore, the country of origin of the subject product is the countries of origin of these components, namely: Canada, the U.S., and China. However, since the components from the U.S. are not required to be marked under 19 U.S.C. Section 1304, the U.S. is not required to appear on the country of origin marking of the kit. Furthermore, pursuant to 19 U.S.C. Section 1304(a)(3)(D) and 19 C.F.R. Section 134.32(d), an exception from the individual marking requirements is applicable where the marking of the container of an imported article will reasonably indicate the origin of the article. This exception is normally applied in cases where the imported article is imported in a properly marked container and the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. will receive it in its original marked container. Accordingly, provided the purchaser at retail receives the subject product in (in this particular instance) the heat-sealed polybag properly marked with the country of origin, an exception to the individual marking requirements will be applicable and the items within the set will not require individual country of origin marking.

Based on the foregoing, while this office finds the method of marking to be acceptable, it is our determination that the country of origin marking presently appearing on the heat-sealed polybag is unacceptable, since the ultimate purchaser in the United States will not be able to read the marking without strain. Part 134, Subpart E, Section 134.41(b), Customs Regulations. Finally, whether any reference can be made on the label to the U.S. components in the kit is an issue under the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You may contact the FTC, Division of Enforcement, 6th & Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20508, telephone number 202-326-2222, on the propriety of any indication that components of the article are made in the U.S. This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 181 of the Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 181).

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 Harvey Kuperstein at 212-637-7068.


Robert B. Swierupski

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