Fender Musical Instruments Corporation
17600 N. Perimeter Drive Suite 100
Scottsdale, AZ 85255
RE: The country of origin of an audio amplifier
Dear Ms. Tanita:
In your letter dated March 25, 2021, you requested a country of origin ruling.
The items concerned is referred to as the Fender Acoustic Jr-Go-SFX Amplifier (used with guitar and vocals).
The manufacturing process for this amplifier takes place within two different countries, Thailand and China
The chassis assembly which houses most of the electronics needed to provide the amplification functionality, is manufactured within Thailand. The chassis incorporates various printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs), battery management components, knobs, and wire/cables.
The manufacturing process that takes place in Thailand includes the manufacture of 10 PCBAs including:
. Control Board
. Bluetooth Board
. LED Board
. Input/Output Board
. USB port board
. Main Board
. Analog board
. Battery Management Board
. Digital Signal Processing Board
. Ice Power Board
The PCBAs are manufactured from electrical elements from various countries of origin. The electrical elements are attached to printed circuit boards using surface mount technology, creating the finished PCBA. The various boards are then assembled within the chassis housing along with various knobs and electrical wire/cables. Function tests of all components are conducted in Thailand.
After the amplifier chassis assembly passes functionality tests in Thailand, it is shipped to China for final product assembly. Final product assembly in China consists of taking the chassis assembly from Thailand and installing it into a wooden outer box of Chinese origin (amplifier chassis and speaker housing). At this point, speakers of Chinese origin are also mounted within the wooden box and electrically connected to the amplifier chassis assembly. A final functionality test will be performed in China.
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."
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, it is the opinion of this office that the amplifier chassis assembly is the dominant component of the finished device. The amplifier chassis assembly is manufactured within Thailand from 10 PCBAs which are also manufactured within Thailand. The subsequent manufacturing steps undertaken in China do not affect a substantial transformation. The amplifier chassis assembly retains its own identity with a predetermined end use. Therefore, since a substantial transformation does not occur as a result of the Chinese processing, the country of origin of the finished Fender Acoustic Jr-Go-SFX Amplifier will be Thailand for origin and marking purposes at time of importation into the United States.
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 Steven Pollichino at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steven A. Mack
National Commodity Specialist Division