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HQ W563367

December 4, 2006

CLA-02 RR:CTF:VS 563367 FrP


Port Director
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
24735 East 75th Avenue, Ste 100
Denver, CO 80249

RE: Application for Further Review of Protest No. 3307-05-100037; GSP; "product of" requirement; snelled fish hooks and rigs.

Dear Port Director:

This is in reference to a Protest and Application for Further Review filed by McGuireWoods, LLP, on behalf of Krexim International, Inc., contesting the denial of preferential tariff treatment under the Generalized System of Preferences ("GSP") for imported snelled fishhooks and rigs. The decision to deny preferential treatment was based on the port's finding that the fish hooks did not satisfy the "product of" requirement under the GSP.

Counsel's memorandum was forwarded to this office for the preparation of a response on October 13, 2005. We regret the delay in responding.


The subject merchandise consists of snelled hooks and various rigs. A snelled hook consists of a fish hook to which a length of nylon filament or wire is attached by a loop secured by a wire wrap. A swivel is wired to the other end of the snell. A rig consists of a length of wire, measuring 52" to 56" with swivels at either end, to which four or more hooks are attached. A rig also incorporates beads, tubes, spinner blades and clevises, all designed to attract fish.

Krexim International of Veradale, Washington (the "importer") purchases loose fishhooks in the U.S. and ships them to its parent company Krexim, Inc. in the Philippines. The hooks are snelled, or made into rigs in the Philippines.

The hooks and most spinner blades and clevises, and some wire, are products of the United States. The beads and spinners are produced in Hong Kong. Some spinner blades and clevises are produced in the People's Republic of China. Coated wire is sourced from Japan. The swivels are made in Korea and the nylon filament in Taiwan.

All processing and assembly operations are carried out in the Philippines.

The importer claims that the manufacture of the snelled hooks requires the following operations: (1) material preparation and quality inspection; (2) cutting and looping of wire or monofilament; and (3) snelling, or attaching the loop piece to the hook by winding and knotting the wire or monofilament. For some snelled hooks, we are advised that the processing includes attaching beads and a spinner blade with a clevis.

In the case of rigs, we are advised that the manufacturing process can entail the following steps: (1) material preparation and quality inspection; (2) cutting of nylon; (3) cutting of wing materials; (4) painting spinner blades; (5) attaching loop and/or swivel to the mainline; (6) threading beads, tubes, clevises and/or spinner blades to the mainline; (7) attaching dressed hooks to main line; and, (8) repeating steps (6) and (7) for each of the hooks on the rig. Diagrams of several representative articles were attached.

The port found that the subject merchandise did not qualify for preferential treatment under the GSP because the foreign processing of assembling U.S. fishhooks into snelled hooks and rigs did not involve a substantial transformation of the U.S. hooks into new and different articles of commerce. Therefore, the finished snelled hooks and rigs exported to the U.S. were not considered a "product of" the Philippines under GSP criteria and, thus, were ineligible for preferential treatment.

However, your port suggests the applicability of subheading 9802.00.80, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States ("HTSUS"), to the U.S. made components of the returned snelled hooks and rigs.


(1) Whether the imported snelled fishhooks and rigs are eligible for preferential tariff treatment under the GSP.

(2) Whether the U.S. origin components qualify for the duty exemption under subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS, when returned to the U.S. as snelled fishhooks.


I. Generalized System of Preferences

Title V of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (19 U.S.C. §§ 2461-65), authorizes the President to establish a Generalized System of Preferences to provide duty-free treatment for eligible articles imported directly from beneficiary developing countries ("BDCs"). Articles produced in a BDC may qualify for duty-free treatment under the GSP if the goods are imported directly into the customs territory of the United States from the BDC and the sum of the cost or value of materials produced in the BDC, or any two or more countries that are members of the same association of countries and are treated as one country under 19 U.S.C. § 2467(2), plus the direct costs of the processing operations performed in the BDC or member countries, is equivalent to at least 35 percent of the appraised value of the article at the time of entry into the United States. See 19 U.S.C. § 2463(a)(2) and (3), and the implementing Customs Regulations at 19 C.F.R. § 10.171-178.

General Note 4(b)(ii) and (c), HTSUS, provides, in part, that special tariff treatment under the GSP is indicated in the "Special" subcolumn in the tariff by the symbols "A", "A*" or "A+." The snelled hooks and rigs are classified under subheadings 9507.20.40 and 9507.90.80, HTSUS, respectively. Both tariff provisions are GSP-eligible.

Therefore, the snelled hooks and rigs are eligible to receive preferential treatment under the GSP, if they (1) are considered to be a "product of" a BDC; (2) are "imported directly" into the United States; and (3) the 35 percent value-content requirement is met.

The Philippines has been designated as a BDC for purposes of the GSP and may be afforded preferential treatment under the HTSUS. See General Note 4(a), HTSUS.

Counsel claims that the subject merchandise will be imported directly from the Philippines to the United States and that local value-content exceeds the 35 percent requirement. Your office questions whether the "product of" requirement is met.

A good is considered to be a "product of" a BDC if it is wholly the growth, product, or manufacture of a BDC, or has been substantially transformed in the BDC into a new or different article of commerce. See 19 U.S.C. § 2463(a)(3) and 19 C.F.R. § 10.177(a). When the article is produced, in part, from materials imported into a BDC from non-BDC countries, as in this case, the article is considered a "product of" the BDC only if those materials are substantially transformed into a new or different article of commerce. See 19 C.F.R. § 10.177(a)(2).

A substantial transformation occurs "when an article emerges from a manufacturing process with a name, character, or use which differs from those of the original material subjected to the process." Torrington Co. v. United States, 764 F.2d 1563, 1568 (Fed. Cir. 1985) (citing Anheuser-Busch Brewing Ass'n v. United States, 207 U.S. 556, 562 (1908) and Texas Instruments Inc. v. United States, 69 CCPA 152, 681 F.2d 778, 782 (1982)).

Where an article is produced from materials imported into the BDC, as in this case, the article is considered to be a "product of" the BDC for purposes of the GSP only if those materials are substantially transformed into a new and different article of commerce. See 19 CFR 10.177(a)(2).

Assembly operations that are minimal or simple, as opposed to complex or meaningful, will generally not result in a substantial transformation. See C.S.D.s 80-111, 89-110, 89-129, and 90-51.

Section 10.176(a)(2)(i), Customs Regulations (19 CFR § 10.176(a)(2)(i)), states in part that:

(i) [s]imple combining or packaging operations and mere dilution include, but are not limited to, the following:

(B) Fitting together a small number of components by bolting, glueing, soldering, etc.;

(E) Repacking or packaging components together;

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 Linen v. United States, 6 CIT 204, 573 F. Supp. 1149 (1983), aff'd, 2 Fed. Cir. 105, 741 F.2d 1368 (1984).

In the case of fishhooks, we find that the processing of the component parts into snelled hooks in the Philippines does not result in a substantial transformation. Customs finds that the processing described herein is a minimal and simple assembly operation which does not result in a new and different article. When imported into the Philippines, the components of the snelled hooks are essentially finished and dedicated to a particular use. Regardless of how unique the assembly process is or the expense incurred to perform the processing, the fact remains that the snelled hooks are imported into the Philippines in condition ready for assembly which does not alter the essential character of the individual components. This operation will not confer Philippine origin to the snelled hooks.

In the case of rigs, we find that the processing of component materials into rigs does result in a substantial transformation. The assembly of the rigs, as noted above, involves a number of components, requires a relatively significant amount of skill, attention to detail, and quality control. The rigs are also composed of components from various countries and no one country represents the majority of the components. Further, the hooks lose their identity in that they are now part of a new article of commerce commonly known as a rig. Consequently, the operations described confer Philippine origin to the rigs.

II. Applicability of subheading 9802.00.80

Subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS, provides a partial duty exemption for:

"[a]rticles assembled abroad in whole or in part of fabricated components, the product of the United States, which (a) were exported in condition ready for assembly without further fabrication, (b) have not lost their physical identity in such articles by change in form, shape or otherwise, and (c) have not been advanced in value or improved in condition abroad except by being assembled and except by operations incidental to the assembly process such as cleaning, lubrication, and painting."

All three requirements of subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS, must be satisfied before a component may receive a duty allowance. An article entered under this tariff provision is subject to duty upon the full appraised value of the imported assembled article, less the cost or value of such U.S. components assembled therein, upon compliance with the documentary requirements of section 10.24, Customs Regulations (19 CFR § 10.24).

For a component to be eligible for subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS, treatment, it must be a "product of the United States." According to section 10.12(e), Customs Regulations (19 CFR § 10.12(e)), a "product of the United States" is an article manufactured within the Customs territory of the U.S. and may consist wholly or partially of foreign components or materials.

Section 10.14(a), Customs Regulations (19 CFR § 10.14(a)), states in part that:

"[t]he components must be in condition ready for assembly without further fabrication at the time of their exportation from the United States to qualify for the exemption. Components will not lose their entitlement to the exemption by being subjected to operations incidental to the assembly either before, during, or after their assembly with other components."

Section 10.16(a), Customs Regulations (19 CFR § 10.16(a)), provides that assembly operations for purposes of subheading 9802.00.80 encompass any method used to join or fit together solid components such as sewing, welding, soldering, riveting, force fitting, gluing, or the use of fasteners and may be accompanied by operations that are incidental to the assembly as provided in section 10.16(b).

Operations incidental to the assembly process are not considered further fabrication operations, as they are of a minor nature and cannot always be provided for in advance of the assembly operations. Examples of operations incidental to the assembly process include trimming, filing, or cutting off of small amounts of excess materials, and cutting to length of wire, thread, tape, foil and similar products exported in continuous length. See 19 CFR § 10.16(b)(4) and (b)(6).

However, any significant process, operation or treatment whose primary purpose is the fabrication, completion, physical or chemical improvement of a component precludes the application of the exemption under subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS, to that component. See 19 CFR 10.16(c).

As stated previously, the operations performed in the Philippines involve some U.S. components (hooks). The subject components are exported from the U.S. in condition ready for assembly without further fabrication, do not lose their physical identity, nor are advanced in value or improved in condition except by being assembled and by operations incidental to the assembly process.

The assembly operations encompass fastening hooks to nylon wire. Section § 10.16(a) contemplates fastening as an allowable method for joining together solid components. The assembly is accompanied by operations that are incidental to it such as trimming and cutting to length of nylon thread, and painting of spinner blades. These incidental operations fall within the scope of section 10.16(b).

Therefore, Customs finds that the processing described herein is an allowable assembly operation under subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS.


Based on the facts presented above, the protest should be denied, in part, regarding the subject snelled fishhooks and granted, in part, concerning the subject rigs, which are eligible for GSP preference.

However, the snelled fishhooks will be eligible for a partial duty exemption under subheading 9802.00.80 for the cost or value of the U.S.-origin fishhooks, provided that your office is satisfied that the importer otherwise complies with the documentary requirements enumerated in 19 CFR § 10.24.

In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, you are to mail this decision, together with the Customs Form 19, to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry or entries in accordance with the decision should be accomplished prior to mailing of this decision. Sixty days from the date of this decision, the office of Regulations and Rulings will make the decision available to CBP personnel, and to the public on the CBP Home Page on the World Wide Web at www.customs.gov, by means of the Freedom of Information Act, and other methods of public distribution.


Myles B. Harmon, Director

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