Mr. C.J. Erickson
Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman, P.C.
114 West 47th Street
New York, NY 10036

RE: The tariff classification and country of origin of copper wire from Vietnam

Dear Mr. Erickson:

In your letter dated December 27, 2019, you requested a ruling on behalf of your client, Luvata Ohio, Inc., concerning the tariff classification and country of origin of copper wire produced in Vietnam.

According to your submission, Luvata Ohio, Inc. will import copper silicon C65600 braze wire that is produced in Vietnam. The manufacturing process begins when Japanese-origin copper cathodes are imported into China where they are cast and alloyed into wire rod measuring approximately 1.7 mm in diameter. The wire rod is then shipped to Vietnam where it undergoes drawing, annealing, testing, inspection, coiling and packing operations. The wire rod is drawn from 1.7 mm down to 1.143 mm. The tensile strength is increased from 500 – 600 MPa to 900 – 1000 MPa. Also, the cast and helix of the wire is set, and the wire is wound onto a designated spool.

The applicable subheading for the copper alloy braze wire will be 7408.29.5000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), which provides for copper wire: of copper alloys: other: not coated or plated with metal. The rate of duty will be 3 percent ad valorem.

You have also requested a country of origin determination for the copper braze wire. Section 19 C.F.R. § 134.1(b) defines country of origin as the country of manufacture, production or growth of any article of foreign origin entering the United States (U.S.). 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 Part 134. A substantial transformation is said to have occurred when an article emerges from a manufacturing process with a name, character, or use which differs from the original material subjected to the process. An imported article is not a product of a country unless it has been substantially transformed there into a new and different article of commerce with a name, character, or use different from that of the article or articles from which it was transformed.

Your position is that the operations performed in Vietnam physically alter the size, strength, shape, appearance, and properties of the wire, substantially transforming the wire into a new and different article of commerce with a different name, character and use. As support for your position, you cite Superior Wire v. United States, 669 F. Supp. 472 (1987), a, 867 F.2d 1409 (1989). You concede that wire rod that is simply drawn into a different size does not undergo a substantial transformation while emphasizing that Customs has, on a number of occasions, held that annealing, when coupled with other operations, does constitute a substantial transformation. The determination of whether a substantial transformation has occurred is based on the totality of the circumstances. A sample of the copper wire in question was forwarded to Customs and Border Protection Laboratories and Scientific Services (CBPLSS) for analysis. CBPLSS determined that the copper wire was 1.14 mm in diameter and was chemically comprised of 1.7353 percent silicon, 0.0297 percent phosphorus, 0.0263 percent sulfur, 0.0697 percent chloride, 0.0255 percent potassium, 0.8772 percent manganese, 0.0381 percent iron, and 97.1982 percent copper. The wire was not cored or coated with flux material. While there was evidence of drawing, CBPLSS found no evidence of annealing. Because the samples submitted to this office were cut from a spool and not wound around a spool, the cast and helix could not be quantified.

In Vietnam, the unfinished wire rod is subjected to operations which change its size and shape and impart different characteristics to the wire by setting the correct cast and helix to the welding wire so that it can meet the applicable American Welding Society specifications for finished welding wire products. Also in Vietnam, the specifications for the braze wire are verified through testing for physical property, surface quality, size, helix and casting. While drawing alone does not result in a substantial transformation, we find that drawing and imparting the correct cast and helix does result in a substantial transformation because the wire cannot be use for its intended purpose as a copper braze wire without these two operations. The wire enters Vietnam as a generic copper wire rod and leaves Vietnam as a copper braze wire with the specific physical and dimensional qualities necessary for its intended use in welding operations. Therefore, the country of origin of the copper alloy wire is Vietnam. 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 Angelia Amerson at [email protected].


Steven A. Mack
National Commodity Specialist Division