U.S. Customs and Border Protection has issued a final determination concerning the country of origin of computer notebook hard disk drives 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 Dec. 30. 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.

In the first production scenario, final assembly and configuration of the drives are done in Singapore or South Korea, including installation of the firmware (largely written in the same country) without which the drives cannot function and that therefore imparts their essential character. In final determination HQ H261623 CBP states that in this scenario the country of origin of the drives for purposes of government procurement is the country (Singapore or South Korea) in which these processes are performed.

In the second scenario the drives are assembled in one country and the firmware is largely written in another country and then downloaded onto the drives in the U.S. Noting that the mere downloading of software written in another country onto an information processing device is not sufficient to be considered a substantial transformation of that device, CBP determines that in this scenario the country of origin of the drives for purposes of both government procurement and country of origin marking is the (unspecified) country where the components for the devices are finally assembled.

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