MAR-2 OT:RR:NC:N2:231

Ms. Patricia Carvalho
Samuel Shapiro & Co., Inc.
1215 E. Fort Avenue
Suite No. 201
Baltimore, MD 21230


Dear Ms. Carvalho:

This is in response to your letter dated August 7, 2019 requesting a country of origin determination on behalf of Newport International of Tierra Verde Inc., (St. Petersburg, FL) for “Processed Crabmeat”.

You have presented a scenario whereby Red Swimming Crabs (Portunus haanii) caught on the coast of China are washed, the carapace and digestive organs removed, then the crabs are frozen prior to exportation to Vietnam. In Vietnam, the crabs are thawed and cooked, then the meat is handpicked and packed in cans which are then sealed, pasteurized and refrigerated until the product is consumed. The product under issue is intended for sale to the food service industry.

With regard to country of origin, 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. Pursuant to 19 CFR Section 134.1(b), the country of origin is the country of manufacture, production or growth of any article of foreign origin entering the U.S. Further work or material added to an article in another country must effect a substantial transformation in order to render such country the country of origin within the meaning of Part 134 of the regulations. A substantial transformation occurs when an article loses its identity and becomes a new article having a new name, character or use. United States v. Gibson-Thomsen Co., 27 CCPA 267 (1940); National Juice Products Association v. United States, 10 CIT 48 (1986). Whether a substantial transformation occurs is determined on a case-by-case basis.

In Koru North America v. United States, 701 F. Supp. 229 (CIT 1988), the court considered whether the processing of headed and gutted fish in South Korea by thawing, skinning, boning, trimming, freezing, and packaging constituted a substantial transformation. The court concluded that the processing performed in South Korea into “quick- frozen” fillets substantially transformed the headed fish because there was a change in name and character. The court noted that while the fish arrive in South Korea with the look of a whole fish, when they leave they no longer possess the essential shape of a fish. The fillets were considered discrete commercial goods and had a different tariff classification.

Concerning the present case, Red Swimming Crabs harvested in China are washed, the carapace and digestive organs removed then frozen and exported to Vietnam. In the latter country, the product is thawed, cooked, and the meat is separated. The product is packed in sealed, pasteurized cans and refrigerated before being shipped to the United States. We find that the crabs are already disassembled as described above in China and do not present as an entire crab when they are shipped to Vietnam. We find that the processing in Vietnam is not a substantial transformation, and that therefore the country of origin of the finished product, “Processed Crabmeat,” is China.

Effective July 6, 2018, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) imposed an additional tariff on certain products of China classified in the subheadings enumerated in Section XXII, Chapter 99, Subchapter III U.S. Note 20(b), HTSUS. The USTR imposed additional tariffs, effective August 23, 2018, on products classified under the subheadings enumerated in Section XXII, Chapter 99, Subchapter III U.S. Note 20(d), HTSUS. Subsequently, the USTR imposed further tariffs, effective September 24, 2018, on products classified under the subheadings enumerated in Section XXII, Chapter 99, Subchapter III U.S. Note 20(f) and U.S. Note 20(g), HTSUS. For additional information, please see the relevant Federal Register notices dated June 20, 2018 (83 F.R. 28710), August 16, 2018 (83 F.R. 40823), and September 21, 2018 (83 F.R. 47974).

Products of China that are provided for in subheading 9903.88.01, 9903.88.02, 9903.88.03, or 9903.88.04 and classified in one of the subheadings enumerated in U.S. Note 20(b), U.S. Note 20(d), U.S. Note 20(f) or U.S. Note 20(g) to subchapter III shall continue to be subject to antidumping, countervailing, or other duties, fees and charges that apply to such products, as well as to those imposed by the aforementioned Chapter 99 subheadings.

Please note that seafood is subject to the Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (“COOL”) requirements administered by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), we advise you to check with that agency for their further guidance on your scenario. Contact information for AMS is as follows:

USDA-AMS-LS-SA Room 2607-S, Stop 0254 1400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, DC 20250-0254 Tel. (202) 720-4486 Website: Email address for inquiries: [email protected]

This merchandise is subject to The Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (The Bioterrorism Act), which is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Information on the Bioterrorism Act can be obtained by calling the FDA at 301-575-0156, or at the Web site ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 177).

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 Ekeng Manczuk at [email protected]


Steven A. Mack
National Commodity Specialist Division