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NY H89943

April 19, 2002

MAR-2 RR:NC:MM:106 H89943


Ms. Susan Klingbeil
496 W. Germantown Pike
Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462
March 25, 2002


Dear Ms. Klingbeil:

This is in response to your letter dated March 25, 2002 requesting a ruling on whether the proposed marking "Made in China" is an acceptable country of origin marking for imported spray bottles. A marked sample was submitted with your letter for review.

The article in question is a spray bottle consisting of a polyethleyne bottle made in Norway which is assembled, in Sweden, with a sprayer assembly that is made in China. The assembly process is very simple, requiring merely screwing the sprayer assembly together with the plastic bottle reservoir. The submitted sample contains a substantial adhesive label with the marking “Made in China” on the bottom of the bottle.

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. The "ultimate purchaser" is defined generally as the last person in the U.S. who will receive the article in the form in which it was imported (19 C.F.R. §134.1(d)). If an article is to be sold at retail in its imported form, the purchaser at retail is the "ultimate purchaser" (19 C.F.R. §134.1(3)).

The country of origin for marking purposes is defined at 134.1(b), Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. §134.1(b)), to mean the country of manufacture, production, or growth of any article of foreign origin entering the U.S. Further work or material added to an article in another country must effect a substantial transformation in order to render such other country the "country of origin" within the meaning of Part 134. A substantial transformation occurs when articles lose their identity and become new articles having a new name, character, or use. The question of when a substantial transformation occurs for marking purposes is a question of fact; to be determined on a case-by-case basis. Uniroyal Inc. v. United States, 3 CIT 220, 542 F.Supp. 1026 (1982), aff'd, 1 Fed.Cir. 21, 702 F.2d 1022 (1983).

In determining whether the combining of parts or materials constitutes a substantial transformation, the issue is the extent of operations performed and whether the parts lose their identity and become an integral part of the new article. Belcrest Linens v. United States, 6 CIT 204, 573 F.Supp. 1149 (1983), aff'd, 2 Fed.Cir. 105, 741 F.2d 1368 (1984). Assembly operations, which are minimal or simple, as opposed to complex or meaningful, will generally not result in a substantial transformation.

In this case, we do not find that the assembly in Sweden of a sprayer assembly made in China with a plastic bottle made in Norway constitutes a substantial transformation of the Chinese and Norwegian components. Since the joining of the sprayer assembly with the plastic bottle is merely a minor one which leaves the identity of both components intact, the purchaser of the complete and assembled spray bottle is regarded as the ultimate purchaser. Accordingly, the spray bottles are required to be individually marked to indicate not only China as the country of origin of the sprayer assembly, but Norway as the country of origin of the plastic bottle. Therefore, the imported spray bottle must be legibly, conspicuously and permanently marked to indicate the countries of origin of the individual assembled components of the spray bottle.

Your proposed marking of the imported spray bottles as “Made in China” must be changed to reflect the findings above. When this change is made the use of an adhesive label on the bottom of the bottle in the same letter size as the sample you submitted will satisfy the country of marking requirements that the article be marked conspicuously, legibly and permanently.

In your letter you cited 19 CFR 102.18(b)(2)(1) to support your opinion that China should be the country of origin of the assembled spray bottle since the Chinese sprayer assembly imparted the essential character to the completed appliance. The Rules of Origin cited in Part 102 of the Customs Regulations are for NAFTA goods only and do not apply to the instant case.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 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 Patrick Wholey at 646-733-3013.


Robert B. Swierupski

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