MAR-2 OT:RR:NC:N4:433

Amy Davidson
Tumac Lumber Co., Inc.
805 SW Broadway, Suite 1500
Portland, OR 97205

RE: THE COUNTRY OF ORIGIN MARKING OF FURNITURE PARTS MADE FROM UNITED STATES LUMBER, SENT TO CHINA TO BE ASSEMBLED INTO PANELS OF EDGE-GLUED LUMBER, AND THEN FURTHER SENT TO VIETNAM FOR MANUFACTURE INTO A VARIETY OF FURNITURE PARTS.

Dear Ms. Davidson:

This is in response to your letter dated August 23, 2018, whereby you requested a country of origin ruling on furniture parts made from raw wood materials of United States origin, sent to China to be assembled into wooden panels, and then further sent to Vietnam to be cut to size and shape for manufacturing into furniture parts.

The raw lumber of United States origin will be exported to China where the lumber will be cut and assembled into raw panels by edge-gluing the pieces. The China mill will produce the panels in various lengths and widths, the thickness of which is usually 22mm. The raw panels are of rough wood that are not further worked or finished. Thereafter, the raw panels will be exported to Vietnam for manufacture into a variety of furniture parts.

Tumac will require the Vietnamese mill to produce the furniture parts in accordance to drawings and specifications provided. The manufacture of these parts takes skilled labor with special machinery. Each wood panel will be made in the exact size, shape, and dimension such that they are unlikely to be used in any other application.

The Vietnamese mill will cut and trim the raw panels into the required lengths and widths, after which the wood panels will be profiled, routed, beveled, notched, shaped, and bored (precision-tolerance drilling) into specific furniture parts according to specification. During this process, the wood panels will be sanded several times to achieve smooth finishes. This process is the same for all furniture parts. After export to the United States, a United States manufacturer will assemble the various parts into specific furniture pieces.

Section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. §1304), provides that unless excepted, every article of foreign origin 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.

Congressional intent in enacting 19 U.S.C. §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 is 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.” See United States v. Friedlaender & Co., 27 CCPA 297 at 302; C.A.D. 104 (1940).

Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements of 19 U.S.C. §1304. Pursuant to 19 CFR 134.1(b), “country of origin” means 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. A substantial transformation results when a new and different article emerges from the processing having a distinctive name, character or use. Alternatively within the same context, a substantial transformation of an article occurs when it is used in manufacture, which results in an article having a name, character, or use differing from that of the article before its processing. See United States v. Gibson-Thomsen Co., Inc., 27 CCPA 269 (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, 573 F. Supp. 1149 (CIT 1983), aff’d, 741 F.2d 1368 (Fed. Cir. 1984). Assembly operations which are minimal or simple, as opposed to complex or meaningful, will generally not result in a substantial transformation. See C.S.D. 85-25, and Uniroyal, Inc. v. United States, 3 CIT 220, 542 F. Supp. 1026, 1029 (1982), aff’d, 702 F.2d 1022 (Fed. Cir. 1983).

In the instant case, we recognize that the non-coniferous wood milled into raw lumber in the United States and assembled into edged-glued panels in China effects a substantial transformation of the raw lumber classified in heading 4407 of the HTSUS to edge-glued lumber classified in heading 4421 of the HTSUS. This change of heading indicates that a substantial transformation has occurred, rendering China the country of origin of the edge-glued lumber panels. See NY ruling N293792 dated February 16, 2018.

Consistent with Headquarters ruling number HQ 555683 dated February 15, 1991 (cross reference to HQ ruling numbers 553878 and 555532), the Vietnamese mill cutting and trimming of the edge-glued panels into required lengths and widths, followed by profiling, routing, beveling, notching, shaping, and boring (precision-tolerance drilling) into specific furniture parts constitutes a single transformation of the edge-glued lumber panels into parts of furniture. Accordingly, the country of origin of the furniture parts manufactured from edge-glued lumber panels is Vietnam.

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 Neil H. Levy at neil.h.levy@cbp.dhs.gov.

Sincerely,

Steven A. Mack
Director
National Commodity Specialist Division