(a) Assembly operations.
The assembly operations performed abroad may consist of any method used to join or fit together solid components, such as welding, soldering, riveting, force fitting, gluing, laminating, sewing, or the use of fasteners, and may be preceded, accompanied, or followed by operations incidental to the assembly as illustrated in paragraph (b) of this section. The mixing or combining of liquids, gases, chemicals, food ingredients, and amorphous solids with each other or with solid components is not regarded as an assembly.
A television yoke is assembled abroad from American-made magnet wire. In the foreign assembly plant the wire is despooled and wound into a coil, the wire cut from the spool, and the coil united with other components, including a terminal panel and housing which are also American-made. The completed article upon importation would be subject to the ad valorem rate of duty applicable to television parts upon the value of the yoke less the cost or value of the American-made wire, terminal panel and housing, assembled therein. The winding and cutting of the wire are either assembly steps or steps incidental to assembly.
An aluminum electrolytic capacitor is assembled abroad from American-made aluminum foil, paper, tape, and Mylar film. In the foreign assembly plant the aluminum foil is trimmed to the desired width, cut to the desired length, interleaved with paper, which may or may not be cut to length or despooled from a continuous length, and rolled into a cylinder wherein the foil and paper are cut and a section of sealing tape fastened to the surface to prevent these components from unwinding. Wire or other electric connectors are bonded at appropriate intervals to the aluminum foil of the cylinder which is then inserted into a metal can, and the ends closed with a protective washer. As imported, the capacitor is subject to the ad valorem rate of duty applicable to capacitors upon the value less the cost or value of the American-made foil, paper, tape, and Mylar film. The operations performed on these components are all either assembly steps or steps incidental to assembly.
The manufacture abroad of cloth on a loom using thread or yarn exported from the United States on spools, cops, or pirns is not considered an assembly but a weaving operation, and the thread or yarn does not qualify for the exemption. However, American-made thread used to sew buttons or garment components is qualified for the exemption because it is used in an operation involving the assembly of solid components.
(b) Operations incidental to the assembly process.
Operations incidental to the assembly process whether performed before, during, or after assembly, do not constitute further fabrication, and will not preclude the application of the exemption. The following are examples of operations which are incidental to the assembly process:
Removal of rust, grease, paint, or other preservative coating;
Application of paint or preservative coating, including preservative metallic coating, lubricants, or protective encapsulation;
Trimming, filing, or cutting off of small amounts of excess materials;
Adjustments in the shape or form of a component to the extent required by the assembly being performed abroad;
Cutting to length of wire, thread, tape, foil, and similar products exported in continuous length; separation by cutting of finished components, such as prestamped integrated circuit lead frames exported in multiple unit strips; and
Final calibration, testing, marking, sorting, pressing, and folding of assembled articles.
(c) Operations not incidental to the assembly process.
Any significant process, operation, or treatment other than assembly whose primary purpose is the fabrication, completion, physical or chemical improvement of a component, or which is not related to the assembly process, whether or not it effects a substantial transformation of the article, will not be regarded as incidental to the assembly and will preclude the application of the exemption to such article. The following are examples of operations not considered incidental to the assembly as provided under subheading 9802.00.80, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (19 U.S.C. 1202 ):
Melting of exported ingots and pouring of the metal into molds to produce cast metal parts;
Cutting of garment parts according to pattern from exported material;
Chemical treatment of components or assembled articles to impart new characteristics, such as showerproofing, permapressing, sanforizing, dying or bleaching of textiles;
Machining, polishing, burnishing, peening, plating (other than plating incidental to the assembly), embossing, pressing, stamping, extruding, drawing, annealing, tempering, case hardening, and any other operation, treatment or process which imparts significant new characteristics or qualities to the article affected.
(d) Joining of American-made and foreign-made components.
An assembly operation may involve the use of American-made components and foreign-made components. The various requirements for establishing entitlement to the exemption apply only to the American-made components of the assembly.
Diodes are assembled abroad from American-made components. The process includes the encapsulation of the assembled components in a plastic shell. The plastic used for the encapsulation is in the form of a pellet, and is of foreign origin. After the prefabricated diode components are assembled, the assembled unit is placed in a transfer molding machine, where, by use of the pellet, molten epoxy is caused to flow around the perimeters of the assembled components, forming upon solidification a plastic body for the diode. Upon importation, exemption may be granted for the value of the American-made components, but not for the value of the plastic pellet. If the plastic pellet used for encapsulation was of United States origin, its value would still be a part of the dutiable value of the diode, because the plastic pellet is not a fabricated component of a type designed to be fitted together by assembly, but merely a premeasured quantity of material which was applied to the assembled unit by a process not constituting an assembly.
An assembly operation may involve the joining or fitting of American-made components into a part or subassembly of an article, followed by the installation of the part or subassembly into the complete article.
Rolls of foil and rolls of paper are exported and cut to specific length abroad and interleaved and rolled to form the electrodes and dielectric of a capacitor. Following this procedure, the rolls are assembled with cans and other parts to form a complete capacitor. The foil and paper are entitled to the exemption.
The packing abroad of merchandise into containers does not in itself qualify either the containers or their contents for the exemption. However, assembled articles which otherwise qualify for the exemption and which are packaged abroad following their assembly will not be disqualified from the exemption by reason of their having been so packaged, whether for retail sale or for bulk shipment. The tariff status of the packing materials or containers will be determined in accordance with General Rule of Interpretation 5, HTSUS (19 U.S.C. 1202 ).
[T.D. 75-230, 40 FR 43023, Sept. 18, 1975, as amended by T.D. 89-1, 53 FR 51248, Dec. 21, 1988; CBP Dec. 08-21, 73 FR 33300, June 12, 2008]