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Assembly and Programming Results in Substantial Transformation of Office Machines, CBP Says

Thursday, January 05, 2012
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has issued a final determination concerning the country of origin of laser-based multifunction office machines that may be offered to the U.S. government under an undesignated government procurement contract.

In the case reviewed, nonfunctioning assemblies and components from various countries are shipped to Mexico, where they are assembled and production on the finished product is conducted by skilled laborers. In addition, U.S.-origin firmware is downloaded and the machine is programmed so that it becomes functional. The assembled finished product is tested in Mexico and prepared for shipping to its ultimate destination.

CBP has concluded that the assembly and programming operations together convey the essential character of these machines and that it is at their assembly and programming where the last substantial transformation occurs. As a result, when the machines are assembled and programmed in Mexico, the country of origin for purposes of U.S. government procurement is Mexico.

CBP issues country of origin advisory rulings and final determinations as to whether an article is or would be a product of a designated country or instrumentality for the purposes of granting waivers of certain “Buy American” restrictions in U.S. law or practice for products offered for sale to the U.S. government.

CBP’s final determination was issued Dec. 21, 2011. Any party-at-interest may seek judicial review of this determination by Jan. 27.

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