James L. Jacobs
12439-F Poway Road
Poway, CA 92064
RE: The tariff classification of parts for laser weapons training systems from Vietnam; applicability of HTS subheading 9802.00.80.
Dear Mr. Jacobs:
In your undated letter, received in our office July 12, 2005, you requested a tariff classification ruling. This letter was a follow-up to your original request, submitted electronically June 13, which we had to reject for the submission of samples and other information.
You state that your company is under subcontract to supply the United States Army with components for training systems. The components are for the Military Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES), a training system that provides a realistic battlefield environment using harmless laser “bullets” (actually coded laser beams). Each soldier and vehicle has a detection system that records “hits.”
You submitted three samples:
1. Torso belt, a harness and belt system worn by soldiers. It is worn over the shoulders and around the waist and chest. It is composed of narrow nylon webbed fabrics and has pouches that will hold the electrical and laser components. Hook-and-loop fasteners connect the parts of the harness and plastic buckles close the belt around the waist. Wires and cables run throughout.
2. Halo helmet band, meant to be attached to a soldier’s helmet, apparently to record hits to the head. It is woven fabric over a plastic ring with wires and connectors.
3. Vehicle equipment support belts, one 16” and one 6”, of nylon fabric backed with hook-and-loop fastener tapes, meant to be secured to the windshield of a military vehicle to record hits to the vehicle. The parts list shows no wires and the samples have none.
According to the parts lists, almost all components, in particular the textile fabrics, are manufactured in the U.S.; the hook-and-loop fastener tapes are made in Taiwan.
According to your letter, all foreign-made parts are imported (with duty paid) into the U.S. to ensure compliance with military standards, and then all parts are exported to Vietnam for assembly into the items we have received. You state that after re-importation into the U.S. they will be further manufactured by your customer, who will add electronics and laser diodes to create the finished product.
The assembly operations performed in Vietnam are essentially the same for each part. The fabric will be cut to length. The buckle on the harness will be assembled to the straps. The components will be sewn. Holes and slits will be made with a hot knife. Snaps will be pressed in. Wires and cables will be cut to length and inserted.
What is the classification of the merchandise? Are the U.S.-origin parts eligible for a duty allowance under subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS, when returned to the U.S.? Must the imported items be individually marked with the country of origin?
The applicable subheading for the harness/belt, helmet band, and vehicle belts will be 6307.90.9889, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), which provides for other made up textile articles, other. The general rate of duty will be seven percent ad valorem.
You suggest classification in subheading 6307.20.0000, HTS, which provides for lifejackets and lifebelts. The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, the Unabridged Edition (1983), defines the term "life jacket" as "a sleeveless jacket of buoyant or inflatable construction, for supporting the wearer in deep water and preventing him from drowning." That is obviously not what we have here.
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
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, lubricating 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 cost or value of the imported assembled article, less the cost or value of the U.S. components assembled therein, upon compliance with the documentary requirements of section 10.24, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 10.24).
The processes used to produce the harness/belt, helmet band, and vehicle belts constitute acceptable assembly operations or incidental operations for purposes of subheading 9802.00.80, HTS, and allowances in duty may be made for the cost or value of all components of U.S. origin.
In your letter you also request that the merchandise not be permanently marked to indicate the country of origin but rather that such marking be on the containers instead.
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.
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 U.S. 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 U.S. who will receive the article in the form in which it was imported.
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 is satisfied that the harness/belt, helmet band, and vehicle belts will remain in the container until they reach the ultimate purchaser and if the ultimate purchaser can tell the country of origin the articles of by viewing the container in which they are packaged, the individual parts would be excepted from marking under this provision. Accordingly, the harness/belt, helmet band, and vehicle belts which are imported in containers that are marked with the country of origin are excepted from marking under 19 U.S.C. 1304 (a)(3)(D) and 19 CFR 134.32(d).
The classification of the harness/belt, helmet band, and vehicle belts is in subheading 6307.90.9889, HTS. Allowances in duty may be made for the cost or value of all components of U.S. origin under subheading 9802.00.80, HTS. Marking the container in which the harness/belt, helmet band, and vehicle belts are imported and sold to the ultimate purchaser in lieu of marking the articles themselves is an acceptable country of origin marking provided the port director is satisfied that the articles will remain in the marked container until it reaches the ultimate purchaser.
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 Mitchel Bayer at 646-733-3102.
Robert B. Swierupski