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NY L86142

August 3, 2005

MAR-2 RR:NC:SP:232 L86142


Mr. David R. Grace
Covington & Burling
1201 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004-2401


Dear Mr. Grace

This is in response to your letter dated July 12, 2005, on behalf of S.P.I. Group SA (“S.P.I.”), requesting a ruling on the country of origin of imported vodka produced in Russia, which is shipped to Latvia for bottling. A marked sample was not submitted with your letter for review.

The subject merchandise consists of bottled vodka that will be shipped from Latvia to the United States. You indicate that S.P.I. produces vodka in Russia from grain. The grain is crushed, treated with water, enzymes, heated and fermented. The fermented mash is distilled, further processed, tested and analyzed. Steps are taken to ensure it meets international standards. The vodka is shipped in bulk to a bottling plant in Latvia. The vodka is again tested to insure compliance with international standards. It is then filtered using membrane filters. The vodka is then pumped into bottles, which are capped, labeled and packed for export to various countries including the United States.

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 country of origin for marking purposes is defined at section 19 CFR 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 is effected when a manufacturer or processor converts or combines an article into a new and different article resulting in a change in name, character, or use.

In this case, the imported vodka has not been substantially transformed as a result of the testing, filtering, bottling and packaging processes in Latvia. The imported vodka remains a product of “Russia” for country of origin marking.

This merchandise is subject to The Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (The Bioterrorism Act), which is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Information on the Bioterrorism Act can be obtained by calling FDA at telephone number (301) 575-0156, or at the Web site www.fda.gov/oc/bioterrorism/bioact.html.

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 John Maria at 646-733-3031.


Robert B. Swierupski

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