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NY R00058

February 4, 2004
CLA-2-95:RR:NC:2:224 R00058


TARIFF NO.: 9506.69.6020

Rosh D. Alger
Corporate Place, Royal Dane Mall
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas 00802
U.S. Virgin Islands

RE: The tariff classification of Court Tennis balls from Haiti.

Dear Mr. Alger:

In your communication dated January 2, 2004, you requested a tariff classification ruling on behalf of Tom Bolt & Associates, P.C.

The merchandise consists of sport balls specially designed for use in the game of Court Tennis. The balls are manufactured in Haiti, imported in bulk into the United States Virgin Islands where they will be graded and packaged, then sold and shipped to buyers in the United States mainland. You ask the tariff classification of these specialty balls, the marking requirements, and whether these articles are products eligible for special tariff treatment under the United States - Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA).

Court Tennis, to use the American name for this game of Tennis, is played on an indoor, concrete court 110 feet by 38 feet. Unlike Lawn Tennis, which is played on a marked-out surface without side or end walls, the playing area in Court Tennis is surrounded by four walls 30 feet high. A player hits the ball - made of tightly wound cloth - with a 16-ounce racket over the center net and plays the surface of the floor, the walls, and the ceiling to put the ball out of reach of the opponent.

The applicable subheading for the Court Tennis specialty balls will be 9506.69.6020, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), which provides for articles and equipment for general physical exercise, gymnastics, athletics, other sports or outdoor games: balls, other than golf balls and table-tennis balls: other: other, other. The general duty rate is 4.9 percent ad valorem.

Regarding the marking of the merchandise, you state that the imported Court Tennis balls will be sold and imported by your client to a limited number of Court Tennis clubs in the United States whose members will use the balls in the play of the game.

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 United States 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. Section 134.41(b), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.41(b)), mandates that the ultimate purchaser in the United States must be able to find the marking easily and read it without strain. Section 134.1(d), defines the ultimate purchaser as generally the last person in the United States who will receive the article in the form in which it was imported. If an imported article is to be sold at retail in its imported form, the purchaser at retail is the ultimate purchaser. In this case, the ultimate purchasers of the balls are the Court Tennis clubs who purchase the product at retail from the importer.

An article is excepted from marking under 19 U.S.C. 1304 (a)(3)(D) and section 134.32(d), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.32(d)), if the marking of a container of such article will reasonably indicate the origin of such article. Accordingly, if Customs at the port of entry is satisfied that the Court Tennis balls will remain in their containers until they reach the ultimate purchaser and if the ultimate purchaser can tell the country of origin of the balls by viewing the containers in which they are packaged, the individual balls would be excepted from marking under this provision.

Court Tennis balls that are imported in containers that are marked in the manner described above are excepted from marking under 19 U.S.C. 1304 (a)(3)(D) and 19 CFR 134.32(d). Accordingly, marking the container in which the balls are imported and sold to the ultimate purchaser in lieu of marking the articles themselves is an acceptable country of origin marking for the imported balls provided the Customs port director is satisfied that the articles will remain in the marked container until they reach the ultimate purchaser.

Regarding eligibility for preferential tariff treatment, General Note 17 of the HTSUS states at (b): “Articles provided for in a provision for which a rate of duty appears in the “Special” subcolumn followed by the symbol “R” in chapters 1 through 97 of the tariff schedule are those designated by the President to be eligible article for purposes of the CBTPA pursuant to section 211 of the Act. “ Applying this criterion, articles classifiable in subheading 9506.69.60, HTSUS, such as the subject Court Tennis balls, are not eligible articles for purposes of the CBTPA. Therefore, the balls are not entitled to receive duty-free or reduced duty treatment under the CBTPA.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 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 646-733-3025.


Robert B. Swierupski

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