2700 Mill Street
Reno, NV 89502
RE: The country of origin of a fiber patch cable
Dear Mr. Faulkner:
In your letter dated July 8, 2022, you requested a country of origin ruling.
The item under consideration is described as a fiber patch cable. The cable is constructed of a fiber optic core that is wrapped in Aramid yarn and jacketed with plastic. Each end of the cable is affixed with an optical connector. The cable will be sold at various lengths and is used as network cabling for data center applications.
In your request, you state that the manufacturing process is completed in China using parts originating from a variety of countries. First, U.S. origin fiber cores are imported into China where they are covered with yarn and jacketed with plastic. The cables are then cut to the desired length and the connectors, which originate from the U.S., Japan, or China, are assembled on each end. The finished cables are then individually packaged for export.
The "country of origin" is defined in 19 CFR 134.1(b), in pertinent part, 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).
Further, 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.
Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304. Section 134.41(b), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.41(b)), mandates that the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. must be able to find the marking easily and read it without strain. Section 134.1(d) defines the ultimate purchaser as generally the last person in the U.S. who will receive the article in the form in which it was imported. 19 CFR 134.1(d)(1) states that if an imported article will be used in manufacture, the manufacturer may be the ultimate purchaser if he subjects the imported article to a process which results in a substantial transformation of the article. The case of U.S. v. Gibson-Thomsen Co., Inc., 27 C.C.P.A. 267 (C.A.D. 98) (1940), provides that an article used in manufacture which results in an article having a name, character or use differing from that of the constituent article will be considered substantially transformed and that the manufacturer or processor will be considered the ultimate purchaser of the constituent materials. In such circumstances, the imported article is excepted from marking and only the outermost container is required to be marked. See, 19 CFR 134.35.
Regarding the origin of the subject cables, it is the opinion of this office that the U.S. originating fiber cores impart the essential functional component of the finished article. Further, the assembly process performed in China is not significantly complex in order to substantially transform the cores into a new and different article of commerce. As such, the origin of the fiber optic patch cables will be the U.S.
Whether an article may be marked with the phrase "Made in the USA" 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, 6th and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20508 on the propriety of proposed markings indicating that an article is made in the USA.
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 Luke LePage at [email protected]
Steven A. Mack
National Commodity Specialist Division