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CBP Identifies Country of Origin for Intermodal Containers

Friday, May 20, 2016
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has issued a final determination concerning the country of origin of 20-foot intermodal shipping containers that may be offered to the U.S. government under an undesignated government procurement contract. Any party-at-interest may seek judicial review of this determination by June 20. 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 containers at issue are composed of corrugated steel sides and roofing that give them a favorable strength to weight ratio, two sets of forklift “pockets” that permit forklifts to lift and move laden or unladen containers, wooden flooring tested to withstand 16,000 lbs. per square foot, 24 top and bottom wall tie down steel lashing rings each having a capacity of 4,000 lbs., and two vents. The right and left sidewalls and the roof will be made in Korea, the floor and the two ends (which include the doors) are made in China, and the U.S. components are prime and finish coatings, decals, tie backs/welding wire, aluminum shot blast media and sealant.

The manufacturing of the containers in the U.S. is asserted to be a complex industrial process that takes more than a day to complete. The containers must be International Container Safety Convention certified, meaning the manufacturer’s facility must be pre-approved by a testing and certification organization sanctioned by the U.S. Coast Guard, and manufactured according to International Organization for Standardization standards before they may be included in the internationally accepted ISO system of transportation.

In final determination HQ H273529 CBP states that the essential character of the containers is imparted by the Korean-origin roof and two side panels given the percentage of the finished surface area of the containers that they comprise. CBP adds that these components are already formed in their final shapes prior to importation and that operations in the U.S. are not sufficient to result in a substantial transformation. As a result, the country of origin of the finished containers will be Korea for government procurement purposes.

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