Mr. David Dixon
Rocky Brands, Inc.
39 East Canal St.
Nelsonville, OH 45764
RE: THE COUNTRY OF ORIGIN MARKING OF FOOTWEAR UPPERS
Dear Mr. Dixon:
This is in response to your letters dated May 13, 2022, June 7, 2022, and July 11, 2022, requesting a ruling on whether the proposed marking "Made in USA with Imported Parts" is an acceptable country of origin marking.
In your first letter, you provided the origin of various components and processes taking place in your Dominican Republic (DR) and Puerto Rican (PR) factories. In your second letter, you provided clarification regarding the condition of the boot upper when imported into Puerto Rico, provided an unlined sample with a large hole in the bottom and stated the imported parts from China and the Dominican Republic will be assembled with the component parts from the United States in Puerto Rico to form Style # GB00532, a closed toe/closed heel boot that covers the ankle.
The upper is made from leather originating in the United States (US) that is tanned in the DR. The midsole is also from the DR. The eyelets, welting, and waterproof membrane are from China, and the outsole is from the US. In the DR, the leather material and the waterproof membrane are cut and sewn to form parts of the upper. The bottom eight eyelets are attached, and the toe and heel are shaped. The unlined boot upper, measuring approximately nine inches tall, is combined with the midsole. The midsole, with a die-cut hole measuring approximately 60 mm x 35 mm, is considered to have an open bottom. You state the upper and waterproof membrane are shipped separately to PR. After importation to PR a last is inserted. A plug is manufactured and inserted to close the hole in the midsole of the upper. The unformed upper with an open bottom becomes a formed upper with a closed bottom. The waterproof membrane is inserted and stitched, the lining is completed, and the eyelets are attached to the top of the upper. The midsole and outer sole are prepped, cemented, activated, and bonded together. The outsole is trimmed, the boot is cleaned, buffed, polished, laced, tagged, and boxed.
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.
Based upon the information presented, it is the opinion of this office that the unformed upper is substantially transformed into a new and different article of commerce in the United States. As such, the manufacturer is considered the ultimate purchaser per 19 CFR 134.1(d)(1). Pursuant to 19 CFR 134.35, the imported parts are excepted from individual marking and only the outermost container is required to be marked with the country of origin, in this case, the Dominican Republic.
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 Stacey Kalkines at [email protected].
Steven A. Mack
National Commodity Specialist Division