DRA-4 RR:CR:DR 230459 LLB
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
2350 N. Sam Houston Parkway East, Suite 1000
Houston, Texas 77032
Attn: Ms. Lynne Sakaki-Lee
Re: AFR/Protest No. 5301-03-100238; Phillips Petroleum Company; 19 C.F.R. § 174.24 and 174.25; 19 U.S.C. § 1313(j)(2); Cyclohexane; commercial interchangeability; Texport Oil Co. v. United States, 185 F. 3d 1291, 1295 (Fed. Cir. 1999); HQ 230165 (June 4, 2004); HQ 228211(Aug. 4, 1999); HQ 227537 (April 9, 1999)
Dear Ms. Sakaki-Lee:
The above-referenced protest has been forwarded to this office for further review. We have considered the arguments raised by the protestant, Phillips Petroleum Company, and your office. Our decision follows.
Initially, we note that the criteria for further review have been met. The protestant asserts in its application for further review (AFR), that pursuant to 19 C.F.R. § 174.25(a), the port’s decision was “inconsistent with a ruling of the Commissioner of Customs or his designee.” Although the protestant does not specifically cite to any Customs and Border Protection (CBP) ruling, the arguments and facts presented in its protest indicate, as discussed below, that the port’s decision was inconsistent with CBP rulings.
This timely protest concerns a claim for drawback under 19 U.S.C. § 1313(j)(2) for exported Cyclohexane. The record indicates that drawback was denied for drawback entry BRO-xxxxx051, because the imported and exported merchandise was not commercially interchangeable. The protestant provided the following pertinent import and export documentation.
-Contract dated January 11, 1994 along with purchase specification.
-Invoice dated June 15, 1995 indicating sale of Cyclohexane to protestant.
-Bill of Lading dated June 15, 1995 indicating shipment of Cyclohexane on June 15, 1995.
-Certificate of analysis dated July 7, 1995, indicating the test method and result.
-Import entry 014-xxxxx18-4 dated July 24, 1995, indicating the protestant as the importer of record. The HTSUS subheading noted is 2902.11.0000.
-Contract dated January 1, 1995, which include sales specification.
-Commercial invoice dated March 27, 1998 for the sale of Cyclohexane.
-Caleb Brett Certificate of Analysis dated March 27, 1998, indicating test result and method.
-Phillips Petroleum Certificate of Analysis dated March 16, 1998, indicating test result and method.
-Foreign Purchaser’s “Analysis Report” of Cyclohexane dated April 24, 1998 indicating test result.
Whether the imported and exported Cyclohexane meets the requisite criteria for commercially interchangeable merchandise for purposes of 19 U.S.C. § 1313(j)(2).
Law and Analysis
Under 19 U.S.C. § 1313(j)(2), as amended, substitution unused merchandise drawback may be granted if there is, with respect to imported, duty-paid merchandise, any other merchandise that is commercially interchangeable with the imported merchandise, provided certain requirements are met. The other merchandise must be exported or destroyed within 3 years from the date of importation of the imported merchandise. Before the exportation or destruction, the other merchandise may not have been used in the United States and must have been in the possession of the drawback claimant. The party claiming drawback must be either the importer of the imported merchandise or have received from the person who imported and paid any duty due on the imported merchandise a certificate of delivery transferring to that party the imported merchandise, commercially interchangeable merchandise, or any combination thereof. The statute does not define “commercially interchangeable”.
In determining commercial interchangeability, CBP evaluates “the critical properties of the substituted merchandise and in that evaluation factors to be considered include, but are not limited to, Governmental and recognized industrial standards, part numbers, tariff classification and value.” See 19 C.F.R. § 191.32(c). Underlying purchase and sales contracts, purchase invoices, purchase orders, and inventory records show whether a claimant has followed a particular recognized industry standard or governmental standard, or any combination of the two, relative values of the imported and exported merchandise, and whether a claimant uses part numbers to buy, sell, and inventory the merchandise in issue. See HQ 227473(March 3, 1998)(determining whether imported and exported merchandise met government and industry standards and relative values using contracts and purchase orders); HQ 227106 (September 3, 1997)(determining use of part numbers, using purchase orders, sales documents and invoices, and warehouse receipts). See also, 19 C.F.R. § 177.2(b)(4)(“If the question or questions presented in the ruling request directly relate to matters set forth in any invoice, contract, agreement, or other document, a copy of the document must be submitted with the request.”)
Our review of the commercial documentation you submitted yields the following analysis.
Governmental and Recognized Industry Standards
The New Orleans Customs Laboratory determined, based on the Caleb Brett lab reports submitted with the drawback claim, that the imported and exported Cyclohexane did not meet the ASTM-5309 industry standard; e.g., have a purity of 99.9% and therefore, were not commercially interchangeable. The port based its initial determination that the merchandise was not commercially interchangeable on the foregoing lab report.
In Texport Oil Co. v. United States, 185 F. 3d 1291, 1295 (Fed. Cir. 1999), the Federal Circuit rejected CBP’s argument that in order for the imported and exported merchandise to be considered commercially interchangeable under 1313(j)(2), it is required to meet certain “recognized industrial standards.” 185 F. 3d at 1294. The Federal Circuit held that whether merchandise is commercially interchangeable is a factual question and should be analyzed from the perspective a “hypothetical reasonable competitor.” Id. at 1295. In addition, the court held that evidence relevant to the question of commercial interchangeability would include:
governmental and recognized industrial standards, part numbers, tariff classification, and relative values. This analysis might also include evidence of arms-length negotiations between commercial actors, the description of the goods on bills of sale or invoices . . .
Id. citing and quoting, S. Rep. No. 103-189, 103d Cong., 1st Sess., 81-85 (1993)(emphasis added). Thus, pursuant to Texport whether imported and exported goods are commercially interchangeable will depend on whether the use of such standards is evident from “arms-length negotiations between commercial actors, the description of the goods on bills of sale or invoices.” 185 F. 3d at 1295. See also, HQ 230165 (June 4, 2004); HQ 228211(Aug. 4, 1999); HQ 227537 (April 9, 1999)(holding that governmental and recognized industry standards are generally considered the most important of the factors, if used in the purchase and sale of the merchandise in question). Insofar as the purchase documents for the imported and designated export merchandise show that all of the transactions were made between divisions Phillips and unrelated foreign purchasers, the transactions were at arms-length.
Our review of the purchase and sales contracts and invoices does not show that the protestant purchases and sells Cyclohexane using the ASTM D-5309 standard. The foregoing documents are silent as to the use of the ASTM D-5309 standard, nor is it apparent from the specifications in these documents that the shipments were consistent with the ASTM D-5309 standard. See HQ 228011 dated Nov. 9, 2001, (holding that it is permissible to use a government or industry standard, even though it is not specifically mentioned in the purchase and sales documents, as long as it is apparent from those documents that the shipments were consistent with a government or industry standard). Insofar as the purchase and sales contracts do not show that Cyclohexane is purchased and sold using the ASTM D-5309 standard, the Government and Industry Standard criterion is inapplicable. Further, the port’s determination that the merchandise was not commercially interchangeable because the merchandise did not meet the ASTM D-5309 standard was contrary to the CBP rulings and the Texport case cited above.
Based on our review of the evidence provided with the entry, it appears that part numbers are not used in the purchase and sale of the merchandise; hence, the part numbers criterion is not applicable.
The CF 7501 indicates the import classification for the Cyclohexane as subheading 2902.11.0000, HTSUS (1995 & 1998). The protestant alleges that a Shipper’s Export Declaration was not required upon exportation. The export invoice describes the exported merchandise as “Cyclohexane”. Insofar as Cyclohexane was an eo nomine provision under the 1995 and 1998, HTSUS, and there is no dispute that the exported merchandise was Cyclohexane, we are satisified that the tariff classification criterion has been met.
Other Critical Properties
According to the purchase and sales specifications, the Cyclohexane is bought and sold based on several different criteria, except for the minimum amount of Cyclohexane. Based our review of the specifications, it is apparent that the content of Cyclohexane is a critical property. The minimum content of Cyclohexane for the purchase or sale and the corresponding import and export lab results are as follows.
Import Lab Result
Export Lab Results
99.8 % min.
99.5 % min.
The import lab result indicates that the imported Cyclohexane content was 99.7% and the export lab results indicate that the exported Cyclohexane content was 99.88%. Insofar as the imported and exported products meet the minimum purchase specification, the subject Cyclohexane is commercially interchangeable.
With respect to the relative values, the record indicates a substantial difference in the import and export price inasmuch as the import price exceeds the export price by 30%. We have held that such a variance in price does not preclude a finding of commercial interchangeability, when either the Government and Industry Standards criterion or other critical properties have been met. See HQ 228655 (November 2, 2001)(holding that although difference of the imported and exported merchandise was in excess of 32%, the merchandise qualified under the critical properties criterion and therefore, value criterion had been met as well); see also, HQ 227220 (February 10, 1997)(holding that although the price difference of the imported and exported merchandise was in excess of 24%, the imported and exported merchandise qualified under the applicable industry standards and thus, relative value did not have as much weight when determining commercial interchangeability). Insofar, as the critical properties criterion has been met, we conclude that the value criterion has been met.
In conclusion, although the parts and the Government and industry standard criteria are inapplicable, the imported and exported merchandise has met the tariff classification, critical properties, and value criteria. Insofar as the critical properties criterion and the value criterion are critical to a determination of commercial interchangeability, and the merchandise meets these criteria, the merchandise is commercially interchangeable.
The imported and exported merchandise are commercially interchangeable; therefore, drawback under 19 U.S.C. § 1313(j)(2) is appropriate. The protest SHOULD BE ALLOWED.
In accordance with the Protest/Petition Processing Handbook (CIS HB, January 2002, pp. 18 and 21), 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 in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing of the decision. Sixty days from the date of the 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.cbp.gov, by means of the Freedom of Information Act, and other methods of public distribution.
Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial and Trade Facilitation Division