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NY J81280

March 11, 2003

CLA-2-16:RR:NC:2:231 J81280


TARIFF NO.: 1604.14.1090; 1604.14.2299; 1604.14.4000

Mr. Joseph Hamby
Tri-Marine International, Inc.
150 West 7th Street, Suite 205
San Pedro, CA 90731

RE: The tariff classification of canned tuna and cooked tuna loins from Mauritius.

Dear Mr. Hamby:

In your letter, dated February 6, 2003, you requested a tariff classification ruling on cooked tuna loins and canned tuna prepared in Mauritius.

Whole frozen tuna of different species will be purchased from fishing vessels flagged in both AGOA and non-AGOA eligible countries. In Mauritius, these tuna will be processed into cooked tuna loins and canned tuna. Both which products will be exported for direct shipment to the United States. The processing in Mauritius is described as a series of steps, which are summarized as follows:

1. The tuna is unladed in Mauritius and brought by truck to the processing plant, where they are sorted by species and size and, then, placed in cold storage facilities at the plant. The tuna, at this stage, is the whole and round fish.

2. From cold storage, tuna of the same size and species are loaded into metal trays, which are placed on metal racks. Large fish are cut into sections, if they are too large for the trays. The racks are wheeled into large processing chambers. The chambers are sealed and a combination of water, steam and air is introduced into the chamber to thaw, then cook, and then cool the tuna.

3. The tuna on racks are then wheeled into a temperature controlled holding room where it is chilled and moisturized with a misty fog to help loosen the skin of the tuna for easy removal during the cleaning process.

4. From the cooling room, the baskets, or trays, of tuna are unloaded from the cooking racks. Heads and tails are manually removed before the fish is passed to cleaners to manually remove the fins, viscera and skin.

5. After the skin has been removed, the eviscerated and trimmed tuna bodies are moved by conveyor to cleaners who manually remove the red meat, bones and any remaining skin from the tuna. The remaining tuna loins are inspected for any cleaning defects.

6. Those tuna loins which are to be shipped as “loins” are then placed in plastic bags up to a predetermined weight, which will always be in excess of 6.8 kilos per bag, net weight, per bag. The bags are weighed, passed through a metal detector, then closed with a metal clip and packed in cartons for freezing and storage prior to shipment in refrigerated containers. As an alternative to the use of a metal clip, to avoid risking the introduction of the clip into the finished product, the tuna loins may be vacuum packed in plastic bags. These bags will be punctured, after the freezing process has been completed, so that the plastic bag will not be airtight.

7. Those loins which are to be processed into canned tuna are placed in mechanical fillers that fill cans automatically with a specific quantity of clean tuna. Can sizes are said to be either 6 ounce or 66.5 ounce, net weight. After filling, the cans move by conveyor to a condiment filler where water, salt, and/or other flavors are added according to the requirement of the customer. These additives will all be products of either Mauritius or of the United States. Filled cans are inspected and the can liquid adjusted prior to being closed and hermetically sealed in automatic can sealing machinery. After sealing, the cans are washed and the seals inspected, then loaded into large baskets for transfer to autoclaves for retorting to eliminate all bacteria and render the product shelf stable. The canned tuna is then cooled and, subsequently, labeled and cased, so that it is ready for shipment.

With regard to the classification of the canned product:

The applicable subheading for tuna, imported in hermetically sealed cans of 6 ounces or 66.5 ounces and “in oil,” as that term is defined in additional U.S. note 1 to chapter 16, will be 1604.14.1090, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), the provision for Tunas and skipjack, in airtight containers, in oil, other. The rate of duty will be 35 percent ad valorem.

The applicable subheading for tuna, imported in hermetically sealed cans of 6 ounces or 66.5 ounces, net weight, and not “in oil,” will be 1604.14.22, HTS, the provision for Tunas and skipjack, in airtight containers, not in oil, in containers weighing with their contents not over 7 kilograms each, and not the product of any insular possession of the United States, for an aggregate quantity entered in any calendar year not to exceed 4.8 percent of apparent United States consumption of tuna in airtight containers during the immediately preceding year, as reported by the National Marine Fisheries Service, other, other. For albacore tuna (Thunnus alalunga), the applicable subheading will be 1604.14.2259, HTS. For other tunas and skipjack, the applicable subheading will be 1604.14.2299, HTS. The rate of duty will be 6 percent ad valorem.

If these goods are entered after the tariff rate quota in subheading 1604.14.22 has filled, then classification will be, as follows: The applicable subheading for albacore tuna will be 1604.14.3059, HTS. The applicable subheading for other tuna and skipjack will be 1604.14.3099, HTS. The rate of duty will be 12.5 percent ad valorem.

With regard to the classification of the tuna loins:

The applicable subheading for cooked, Albacore tuna loins that have been packaged in non-airtight, plastic bags (item 3) will be 1604.14.4000, HTS, which provides for prepared or preserved fish; caviar and caviar substitutes prepared from fish eggs, fish, whole or in pieces, but not minced, tunas, skipjack and bonito (Sarda spp.), tunas and skipjack, not in airtight containers, in bulk or in immediate containers weighing with their contents over 6.8 kilograms each, not in oil. The rate of duty will be 1.1 cent per kilogram.

The applicable subheading for cooked tuna loins, imported in non-airtight plastic bags with a net weight over 6.8 kilos each, and not “in oil”, will be 1604.14.4000, HTS, the provision for Tunas and skipjack, not in airtight containers, in bulk or in immediate containers weighing with their contents over 6.8 kg each, not in oil. The rate of duty will be 1.1 cents per kilogram.

If imported “in oil,” the applicable subheading for these tuna loins will be 1604.14.5000, HTS, the provision for other tuna, not in airtight containers. The rate of duty will be 12 percent ad valorem.

Articles classifiable under subheadings 1604.14.1090, 1604.14.2259, 1604.14.2299, 1604.14.3059, 1604.14.3099, 1604.14.4000 and 1604.14.5000, HTS, which are products of Mauritius may be entitled to duty free treatment under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) upon compliance with all applicable regulations. The AGOA is subject to modification and periodic suspension, which may affect the status of your transaction at the time of entry for consumption or withdrawal from warehouse. To obtain current information on AGOA, check the Customs Web site at www.customs.gov. At the Web site, click on "CEBB", click on “Files”, click on “Search” and then enter a key word search for the term "AGOA."

The question of country of origin, marking, for these products, as well as the AGOA-related expense items included in your letter, are being referred to the Office of Regulations and Rulings, U.S. Customs Service Headquarters, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C. 20229. A reply will be issued to you from that office.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 CFR 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 Thomas Brady at (646) 733-3030.


Robert B. Swierupski

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