MAR-2-05 RR:CR:SM 563045 DCC
Ms. Ruby Wood Sevcik
6000 Connection Drive
Irving, TX 75039
RE: Country of Origin Marking of Cell Phone Battery Packs
Dear Ms. Sevcik:
This is in response to your request, dated April 28, 2004, for an advance ruling on behalf of Nokia, Inc. (“Nokia”), regarding the country of origin marking of cell phone battery packs. We also received a memorandum from the National Commodity Specialist Division (“NCSD”) dated May 21, 2004.
Nokia imports lithium ion battery packs (Model No. BL-5C P/N 0670398) for use in cellular telephones. The battery packs are assembled in China by Nokia’s supplier from the following components:
Material Country of Origin
Single lithium ion battery cell Japan
Printed circuit assembly with components China
Lead plate China
Plastic housing China
In China, a nickel plate strap is mechanically welded to the positive and negative caps of the cell. A fuse is then added to the positive nickel strap, which is then attached to the printed circuit assembly. These assembled components are then placed inside the plastic housing. The top and bottom of the plastic housing is ultrasonically welded together before the assembled battery pack is electrically tested.
You request a ruling whether the following markings are acceptable for country of origin marking purposes:
Cell made in Japan, Battery assembled in China;
Battery assembled in China with Japanese cell;
Battery made in China. Cell made in Japan; and
Cell made in Japan, further processing in China.
Whether battery packs may be marked to indicate that the cell is made in Japan and the battery pack is assembled, made, or further processed in China for country of origin marking purposes.
LAW & ANALYSIS:
Section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. § 1304), provides that unless excepted, every article of foreign origin imported into the United States 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. Congressional intent in enacting section 1304 was “that the ultimate purchaser should be able to know by an inspection of the marking on the imported goods the country of which the goods are the product. The evident purpose is to mark the goods so that at the time of purchase the ultimate purchaser may, by knowing where the goods were produced, be able to buy or refuse to buy them, if such marking should influence his will.” United States v. Friedlaender & Co., 27 C.C.P.A. 297, 302, C.A.D. 104 (1940).
Part 134, Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) Regulations (19 C.F.R. § 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and the exceptions of 19 U.S.C. § 1304. Section 134.1(b), CBP Regulations (19 C.F.R. § 134.1(b)), defines “country of origin” as the country of manufacture, production or growth of any article of foreign origin entering the United States. 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 an article emerges from a manufacturing process with a name, character, and use that differs from the original material subjected to the processing. See United States v. Gibson-Thomsen Co., 27 C.C.P.A. 267 (C.A.D. 98) (1940).
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 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, 85-25, 89-110, 89-118, 89-129, 90-51 and 90-97.
CBP has previously held that the assembly of battery cells into battery packs does not result in a substantial transformation of the cells because the essential character of the cells does not change by simply placing them together in a plastic case. See Headquarters Ruling Letter (“HRL”) 704711, dated May 19, 1975 (ruling that the origin of battery packs is determined by the origin of the battery cells, and that the subsequent attachment of a vinyl sleeve and a tab by spot welding did not result in a substantial transformation of the cells).
Consistent with CBP’s previous rulings, we find that the country of origin of the finished battery packs in this case is Japan, which is determined by the origin of the battery cells. Furthermore, CBP has previously disallowed country of markings that indicate multiple countries since such markings do not indicate clearly the actual country of origin as required by 19 U.S.C. 1304. See HRL 560776, dated May 4, 1999 (ruling that the use of a marking listing multiple possible countries of origin on blister cards for home electronics accessories did not satisfy the country of origin marking requirements). Consequently, your proposed country markings—which indicate the cells are made in Japan and the finished batteries are “made” or “assembled” in China—are unacceptable because they do not clearly identify the country of origin of the finished good. Please note, however, that CBP would not object to an indication that the cells are made in Japan, and further processed in China, such that the proposed marking would be acceptable.
Based on the information provided, the battery cells from Japan are not substantially transformed when assembled into battery packs in China. For purposes of 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 C.F.R. 134, the battery packs must be marked to indicate Japan as the country of origin. CBP would not object to an indication that the cells are made in Japan, and further processed in China, such that the proposed marking would be acceptable.
A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is entered. If the documents have been filed without a copy, this ruling should be brought to the attention of the CBP officer handling the transaction.
Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial Rulings Division