In ruling N327063 (August 3, 2022), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) discussed the country of origin of mallets. The imported mallets are identified as 12-ounce and 24-ounce Hickory 2-sided Soft Face Mallets. The mallets consist of a forged, carbon steel head and an injection-molded handle. The mallets also come with replaceable plastic caps that are used to cover the striking face of the mallet heads, thus protecting parts and surfaces from damage when the mallets are being used.
Both types of mallets are manufactured in the same manner. The process begins in Vietnam where raw Chinese-origin carbon steel is cut, forged, and sandblasted into the final shape and size of the mallet heads. Holes are also machined into the heads so that the handles may be inserted. The mallet heads are then sent to China where they are heat-treated, polished, cleaned, and coated with anti-rust oil. The mallet heads are also assembled with Chinese-origin handles as well as replaceable Chinese-origin plastic caps. Lastly, the completed mallets are affixed with labels and packed for exportation to the U.S.
In order to determine the country of origin of the mallets, CBP first established the meaning of country of origin. Per 19 CFR 134.1(b), the country of origin of an item is defined as “the country of manufacture, production, or growth of any article of foreign origin entering the United States. Further work or material added to an article in another country must effect a substantial transformation in order to render such other country the ‘country of origin’ within the meaning of this part.” CBP also established that substantial transformation occurs when an article emerges from a process “with a new name, character, or use, different from that possessed by the article prior to processing.” In circumstances where components of various origins are assembled into a single completed product, CBP considers all factors in order to determine if a product with a new name, character, or use is produced.
With regards to the mallets, CBP found that the forging of the mallet heads – which takes place in Vietnam – is what imparts the essence of the finished good. The assembly and finishing operations that take place in China do not substantially change the forged mallet heads so as to transform them into a new article with a different name, character, or use. As such, CBP determined that the country of origin of the 12-ounce and 24-ounce Hickory 2-sided Soft Face Mallets would be Vietnam.