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CBP Identifies Country of Origin for Solar Modules Used to Help Generate Electricity

Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has issued a final determination concerning the country of origin of certain solar modules that may be offered to the U.S. government under an undesignated government procurement contract. This determination was issued Sept. 16 and any party-at-interest may seek judicial review of it by Oct. 22. 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.

The products at issue convert sunlight into energy and are generally incorporated into a system that includes other components such as inverters, racking systems, cable management systems, and monitoring systems and is installed at facilities to generate electricity. The modules are assembled in Korea and Poland from solar cells made in Malaysia or Korea that represent slightly more than half of the cost of the finished product as well as parts made in other countries.

CBP concludes that turning glass tubes into functioning solar cells results in a substantial transformation but that assembling solar cells into finished solar panels does not. As a result, the country of origin of the solar modules for government procurement purposes is Malaysia, when Malaysian solar cells are used, or Korea, when Korean solar cells are used.

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