MAR-2 OT:RR:NC:N2:209

Paula Connelly
Law Offices of Paula M. Connelly
100 Trade Center Suite 660
Woburn, MA 01801

RE: The country of origin and marking of optical cable assemblies

Dear Ms. Connelly:

This is in response to your letter dated November 21, 2018, requesting a country of origin and marking ruling on behalf of your client, TIME Interconnect Limited.

The two items concerned are optical fiber cable assemblies.

The first optical cable assembly is referred to as the FOCA. It consists of a fiber optic cable incorporating two connectors. This product is used in a variety of market sectors. The FOCA optical fiber cable assemblies will be assembled in China from components of both the United States (U.S.) and foreign origin.

The second optical cable assembly is referred to as the LPBK. It consists of a fiber optic cable incorporating one connector. This product is used in a variety of market sectors. The LPBK optical fiber cable assemblies will be assembled in China from components of both U.S. and foreign origin.

Each assembly is manufactured similarly with the only difference being the number of connectors assembled onto the cable.

The optical fiber cable assembly will consist of the following components:

1) MTP / MPO, LC and SC Optical Fiber Connector: a) Ferrule – U.S. origin b) Male Pin – U.S. origin c) Connector Kit – U.S. origin, China origin or Japan origin

2) Optical Fiber Cable: a) Optical Fiber Core – U.S. origin b) Aramid Yarn - China origin c) Plastic Cable Jacket - China origin d) Mesh Tube (optional) - China origin

The assembly process in China is as follows:

The optical fiber cable will be shipped to the TIME Interconnect factory in a reel pack. The optical fiber cable is of U.S origin.

Within China, TIME pulls the cable from the reel pack and strips back the cable jacket and fiber cladding. Next the fibers are inserted into a ferrule, glued and oven heated to ensure that the assembly is secure. The end face of ferrule is then polished and inspected. Upon completion of these steps, the sub-assembly consists of the ferrules and cable being assembled into the connectors. However, the connector assembly (kits) can be of U.S. origin, China origin or Japan origin.

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.

The “country of origin” is defined in 19 CFR 134.1(b) 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 this part; however, for a good of a NAFTA country, the NAFTA Marking Rules will determine the country of origin.”

For tariff purposes, the courts have held that a substantial transformation occurs when an article emerges from a process with a new name, character or use different from that possessed by the article prior to processing. United States v. Gibson-Thomsen Co., Inc., 27 CCPA 267, C.A.D. 98 (1940); National Hand Tool Corp. v. United States, 16 CIT 308 (1992), aff’d, 989 F. 2d 1201 (Fed. Cir. 1993); Anheuser Busch Brewing Association v. The United States, 207 U.S. 556 (1908) and Uniroyal Inc. v. United States, 542 F. Supp. 1026 (1982).

However, if the manufacturing or combining process is merely a minor one that leaves the identity of the article intact, a substantial transformation has not occurred. Uniroyal, Inc. v. United States, 3 CIT 220, 542 F. Supp. 1026, 1029 (1982), aff’d, 702 F.2d 1022 (Fed. Cir. 1983). Substantial transformation determinations are based on the totality of the evidence. See Headquarters Ruling (HQ) W968434, date January 17, 2007, citing Ferrostaal Metals Corp. v. United States, 11 CIT 470, 478, 664 F. Supp. 535, 541 (1987).

Based upon the facts presented and the pertinent authorities, it is the opinion of this office that the U.S. origin fiber optic cable, which is shipped to China for processing into the finished cable assemblies (adding ferrules/connectors), does not result in a substantial transformation in China. The assembly process does not result in a new and different article of commerce with a name, character, and use distinct from the article exported. Therefore, the optical fiber cable assemblies (FOCA and LPBK) are considered a product of the U.S. for marking purposes at time of importation into the United States.

Accordingly, the fiber optic cable assemblies will not be required to have any country of origin marking pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1304 when imported into the U.S.

Whether an article may be marked with the phrase “Made in the U.S.A.” or similar words denoting U.S. origin, is an issue under the authority of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). We suggest that you contact the FTC Division of Enforcement, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580 on the propriety of proposed markings indicating that an article is made in the U.S.

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 Steven Pollichino at steven.pollichino@cbp.dhs.gov.

Sincerely,

Steven A. Mack
Director
National Commodity Specialist Division