Non-Preferential Origin Determinations for Merchandise Imported From Canada or Mexico for Implementation of the Agreement Between the United States of America, the United Mexican States, and Canada (USMCA), 35422-35429 [2021-14265]

Download as PDF 35422 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 126 / Tuesday, July 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY U.S. Customs and Border Protection DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY 19 CFR Parts 102 and 177 [USCBP–2021–0025] RIN 1515–AE63 Non-Preferential Origin Determinations for Merchandise Imported From Canada or Mexico for Implementation of the Agreement Between the United States of America, the United Mexican States, and Canada (USMCA) U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security; Department of the Treasury. ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking; request for comments. AGENCY: This document proposes to amend the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) regulations regarding non-preferential origin determinations for merchandise imported from Canada or Mexico. Specifically, this document proposes that CBP will apply certain tariff-based rules of origin in the CBP regulations for all non-preferential determinations made by CBP, specifically, to determine when a good imported from Canada or Mexico has been substantially transformed resulting in an article with a new name, character, or use. For consistency, this document also proposes to modify the CBP regulations for certain country of origin determinations for government procurement. Collectively, the proposed amendments in this notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) are intended to reduce administrative burdens and inconsistency for non-preferential origin determinations for merchandise imported from Canada or Mexico for purposes of the implementation of the Agreement Between the United States of America, the United Mexican States, and Canada (USMCA). Elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register, CBP is publishing an interim final rule to amend various regulations to implement the USMCA for preferential tariff treatment claims. The interim final rule amends the CBP regulations, inter alia, to apply certain tariff-based rules of origin for determining the country of origin for the marking of goods imported from Canada or Mexico. DATES: Comments must be received by August 5, 2021. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by docket number USCBP– jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:39 Jul 02, 2021 Jkt 253001 2021–00X25 by one of the following methods: • Federal eRulemaking Portal at https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. • Mail: Due to COVID–19-related restrictions, CBP has temporarily suspended its ability to receive public comments by mail. Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and docket number for this rulemaking. All comments received will be posted without change to https:// www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. For detailed instructions on submitting comments and additional information on the rulemaking process, see the ‘‘Public Participation’’ heading of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document. Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to https:// www.regulations.gov. Due to the relevant COVID–19-related restrictions, CBP has temporarily suspended on-site public inspection of the public comments. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Operational Aspects: Queena Fan, Director, USMCA Center, Office of Trade, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, (202) 738–8946 or usmca@ cbp.dhs.gov. Legal Aspects: Craig T. Clark, Director, Commercial and Trade Facilitation Division, Regulations and Rulings, Office of Trade, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, (202) 325–0276 or craig.t.clark@cbp.dhs.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Public Participation Interested persons are invited to participate in this rulemaking by submitting written data, views, or arguments on all aspects of this notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) also invites comments that relate to the economic, environmental, or federalism effects that might result from this proposed rule. Comments that will provide the most assistance to CBP will reference a specific portion of the NPRM, explain the reason for any recommended change, and include data, information or authority that support such recommended change. II. Background The country of origin of merchandise imported into the customs territory of the United States (the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico) is important for several reasons. The PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 country of origin of merchandise determines the rate of duty, admissibility, quota, eligibility for procurement by government agencies, and marking requirements. There are various rules of origin for goods imported into the customs territory of the United States, generally referred to as ‘‘preferential’’ and ‘‘non-preferential’’ rules of origin. ‘‘Preferential’’ rules are those that apply to merchandise to determine eligibility for special treatment, including reduced or zero tariff rates, under various trade agreements or duty preference legislation, e.g., Generalized System of Preferences. ‘‘Non-preferential’’ rules are those that generally apply for all other purposes.1 CBP uses the substantial transformation standard to determine the country of origin of goods for non-preferential purposes. For a substantial transformation to occur, ‘‘a new and different article must emerge, ‘having a distinctive name, character or use.’’’ Anheuser-Busch Brewing Ass’n v. United States, 207 U.S. 556, 562 (1908) (quoting Hartranft v. Wiegmann, 121 U.S. 609, 615 (1887)). CBP applies two different methods for determining if merchandise has been substantially transformed. One method involves case-by-case adjudication, relying primarily on tests articulated in judicial precedent and past administrative rulings. The other method consists of codified rules in part 102 of title 19 of the Code of Federal Regulations (19 CFR part 102) (referred to as the part 102 rules), which are primarily expressed through specified differences in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) classification of the good and its materials. This method is often referred to as the ‘‘change in tariff classification’’ 1 The term ‘‘non-preferential purposes’’ generally refers to purposes set forth in laws, regulations, and administrative determinations of general application applied to determine the country of origin of goods not related to the granting of tariff preferences pursuant to a trade agreement or a trade preference program such as the Generalized System of Preferences. Non-preferential purposes include antidumping and countervailing duties; safeguard measures; origin marking requirements; and any discriminatory quantitative restrictions or tariff quotas. They also include rules of origin used for trade statistics and for determining eligibility for government procurement. See, e.g., Art. I, Uruguay Round Agreement on Rules of Origin. They do not include the rules of origin used to determine eligibility for preferential tariff treatment under trade agreements unless otherwise explicitly specified in those agreements. Notwithstanding the above, under Title VII of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, merchandise within the scope of the Department of Commerce’s antidumping and/or countervailing duty proceedings may be associated with a country of origin (for purposes of the scope of antidumping/countervailing duties) that is different from the country of origin determined by CBP for other purposes. E:\FR\FM\06JYP1.SGM 06JYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 126 / Tuesday, July 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules or ‘‘tariff shift’’ method. Both the caseby-case and tariff shift methods are intended to produce the same determinations as to origin because both apply the same substantial transformation standard. CBP first promulgated the part 102 rules in 1994 to fulfill the commitment of the United States under Annex 311 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which required the parties to establish rules for determining whether a good is a good of a NAFTA party (i.e., the United States, Mexico, or Canada). In contrast to the case-by-case method, the part 102 rules were intended to provide for more certainty, transparency, and consistency in application of origin decisions. They codify, rather than constitute an alternative to, the substantial transformation standard and are intended to implement the standard consistently.2 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Country of Origin Marking Requirements for Imported Merchandise From Canada or Mexico Pursuant to the Agreement Between the United States of America, the United Mexican States, and Canada (USMCA) 3 On November 30, 2018, the ‘‘Protocol Replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement with the Agreement Between the United States of America, the United Mexican States, and Canada’’ (the Protocol) was signed to replace the NAFTA. Section 601 of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement Implementation Act (USMCA Act), Public Law 116–113, 134 Stat. 11 (19 U.S.C. Chapter 29), repealed the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (NAFTA Implementation Act), Public Law 103– 182, 107 Stat. 2057 (19 U.S.C. 3301 et seq.), as of the date that the USMCA entered into force, July 1, 2020. The NAFTA provisions set forth in part 181 of title 19 of the CFR (19 CFR part 181) and in General Note 12, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), continue to apply to goods entered for consumption, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, prior to July 1, 2020. On July 1, 2020, CBP published an interim final rule (IFR) in 2 See ‘‘Rules for Determining the Country of Origin of a Good for Purposes of Annex 311 of the North American Free Trade Agreement; Rules of Origin Applicable to Imported Merchandise,’’ 60 FR 22312, 22314 (May 5, 1995), citing, in part, ‘‘Rules of Origin Applicable to Imported Merchandise,’’ 59 FR 141 (Jan. 3, 1994). 3 The Agreement Between the United States of America, the United Mexican States, and Canada is the official name of the USMCA treaty. Please be aware that, in other contexts, the same document is also referred to as the United States-MexicoCanada Agreement. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:39 Jul 02, 2021 Jkt 253001 the Federal Register (CBP Dec. 20–11) amending 19 CFR part 181 and adding a new part 182 of title 19 of the CFR (19 CFR part 182) containing several USMCA provisions, including the Uniform Regulations regarding rules of origin (appendix A to part 182). See 85 FR 39690 (July 1, 2020). In another IFR published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register (‘‘Agreement Between the United States of America, the United Mexican States, and Canada (USMCA) Implementing Regulations Related to the Marking Rules, Tariff-rate Quotas, and Other USMCA Provisions’’ (RIN 1515–AE56)), CBP is amending the CBP regulations to include additional USMCA implementing regulations in 19 CFR part 182 and to amend other portions of title 19 of the CFR. The IFR includes amendments to parts 102 and 134 of title 19 of the CFR (19 CFR parts 102 and 134) to apply the rules of origin set forth in 19 CFR part 102 for determining the country of origin for the marking of goods imported from Canada or Mexico. Those amendments facilitate the transition from the NAFTA to the USMCA by maintaining the status quo for country of origin for marking determinations. Non-Preferential Origin Determinations for Merchandise Imported From Canada or Mexico Although the NAFTA Implementation Act was repealed by the USMCA Act as of July 1, 2020, the part 102 rules remain in 19 CFR part 102 and are applicable for country of origin marking determinations for goods imported from Canada or Mexico under the USMCA (pursuant to the IFR, being concurrently published, as explained above). The part 102 rules, specifically §§ 102.21 through 102.25, are also to be used by CBP to determine the country of origin of textile and apparel products (imported from all countries except from Israel (see 19 CFR 102.22)), including the administration of quantitative restrictions, if applicable. After the part 102 rules were promulgated in 1994, the rules were subsequently amended to also include references to specific U.S. trade agreements that incorporated those rules as part of the determination for trade preference eligibility, i.e., for preference purposes. For example, as indicated in the scope provision for part 102, the rules set forth in §§ 102.1 through 102.21 also apply for purposes of determining whether an imported good is a new or different article of commerce under § 10.769 of the United StatesMorocco Free Trade Agreement regulations and § 10.809 of the United PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 35423 States-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement regulations. Unlike the NAFTA, the USMCA does not refer to a marking requirement, except with regard to certain agricultural goods. For certain agricultural goods, the USMCA does contain a requirement that a good must first qualify to be marked as a good of Canada or Mexico in order to receive preferential tariff treatment under the USMCA. For most goods, only the general Uniform Regulations regarding rules of origin set forth in Appendix A of part 182 of title 19 (19 CFR part 182) and the product-specific rules of origin contained in General Note 11, HTSUS, are needed to determine whether a good is an originating good under the USMCA and therefore is eligible to receive preferential tariff treatment. The Secretary of the Treasury has general rulemaking authority, pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 1624, to make such regulations as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of section 304(a) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, related to the country of origin requirements for imported articles of foreign origin. The Department of the Treasury and CBP have concluded that extending application of the well-established part 102 rules to goods imported from the USMCA countries of Canada and Mexico will provide continuity for the importing community because those rules have been applied to all imports from these countries since 1994.4 The importing community has made extensive efforts to comply with the part 102 rules and CBP has significant experience in applying those rules to imported merchandise from Canada and Mexico. The part 102 rules, as codified, are a reliable, simplified, and standardized method for CBP when determining the country of origin for customs purposes. When promulgating the part 102 rules in 1994, the U.S. Customs Service (now CBP) explained: . . . the long history of the substantial transformation rule, [and] its administration has not been without problems. These problems devolve from the fact that application of the substantial transformation rule is on a case-by-case basis and often involves subjective judgments as to what 4 This rule does not apply for purposes of determining whether merchandise is subject to the scope of antidumping and countervailing duty proceedings under Title VII of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, as such determinations fall under the authority of the Department of Commerce. Specifically, notwithstanding a CBP country of origin determination, that merchandise may be subject to the scope of antidumping and/ or countervailing duty proceedings associated with a different country. E:\FR\FM\06JYP1.SGM 06JYP1 35424 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 126 / Tuesday, July 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS constitutes a new and different article or as to whether processing has resulted in a new name, character, and use. As a result, application of the substantial transformation rule has remained essentially non-systematic in that a judicial or administrative determination in one case more often than not has little or no bearing on another case involving a different factual pattern. Thus, while judicial and administrative decisions involving the substantial transformation rule may have some value as restatements or refinements of the basic rule, they are often of little assistance in resolving individual cases involving the myriad of issues or tests that have arisen, such as the distinction between producer’s goods and consumer’s goods, the significance of further manufacturing or finishing operations, and the issue of dedication to use. The very fact that the substantial transformation rule has been the subject of a large number of judicial and administrative determinations is testament to the basic problem: The case-bycase approach, involving application of the rule based on specific sets of facts, has led to varied case-specific interpretations of the basic rule, resulting in a lack of predictability which in turn has engendered a significant degree of uncertainty both within Customs and in the trade community as regards the effect that a particular type of processing should have on an origin determination. ‘‘Rules for Determining the Country of Origin of a Good for Purposes of Annex 311 of the North American Free Trade Agreement,’’ 59 FR 110, 141 (January 3, 1994). Importers of goods from Canada and Mexico are well-versed in the part 102 rules, and the greater specificity and transparency those rules provide will facilitate the determination of eligibility for USMCA tariff preferences for certain agricultural goods, as noted above. Accordingly, to make the transition from the NAFTA to the USMCA as smooth as possible for the importing community, CBP is amending 19 CFR parts 102 and 134, in the IFR concurrently published today, to continue application of the part 102 rules to determine the country of origin for marking purposes of a good imported from Canada or Mexico. CBP has not previously applied the part 102 rules for non-preferential origin determinations involving goods imported from Canada and Mexico other than for textile products and for purposes of determining country of origin marking. CBP has, instead, used case-by-case adjudication for other nonpreferential origin determinations. CBP makes such non-preferential origin determinations for purposes such as admissibility, quota, procurement by government agencies, and application of duties imposed under sections 301 to 307 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (19 U.S.C. 2411–2417, commonly referred to as ‘‘Section 301’’). VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:39 Jul 02, 2021 Jkt 253001 This means that importers of goods from Canada and Mexico are subject to two different non-preferential origin determinations for imported merchandise: One for marking; and, another for determining origin for other purposes. Consequently, these importers must also potentially comply with requirements to declare two different countries of origin for the same imported good (e.g., Canada and China). This burdens importers with unnecessary additional requirements, creates inconsistency, and reduces transparency. To address these burdens, CBP is proposing to amend the scope section of part 102 of title 19 of the CFR so that the substantial transformation standard will be applied consistently across all non-preferential origin determinations that CBP makes for merchandise imported from Canada and Mexico. This purpose is accomplished by adding new language to the scope provision of the part 102 rules. The proposed regulatory change will obviate the need for importers of merchandise from Canada and Mexico wishing to comply with the various laws that require CBP origin determinations from having to request multiple non-preferential country of origin determinations from CBP for a particular good. The proposed regulatory change also means that CBP will no longer need to issue rulings with multiple non-preferential origin determinations goods imported from Canada or Mexico, and there will no longer be rulings that conclude that a good imported from Canada or Mexico has two different origins under the USMCA (i.e., one for marking and one for other, customs non-preferential purposes). CBP’s application of the part 102 rules would not, however, affect similar determinations made by other agencies, such as the Department of Commerce’s scope determinations in antidumping or countervailing duty proceedings (see 19 CFR 351.225), determinations by the Agricultural Marketing Service under the Country of Origin Labeling (‘‘COOL’’) law (see 7 CFR part 65), or origin determinations made by other agencies for purposes of government procurement under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (see 48 CFR chapter 1). CBP is also proposing to make corresponding edits to part 177 of title 19 of the CFR, which sets forth the requirements for various types of administrative rulings. Specifically, subpart B of part 177 applies to the issuance of country of origin advisory rulings and final determinations relating to government procurement for purposes of granting waivers of certain PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 ‘‘Buy American’’ restrictions in U.S. law and practice for products from eligible countries. As noted in 19 CFR 177.21, the subpart is intended to be applied consistent with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (48 CFR chapter 1) and the Defense Acquisition Regulations System (48 CFR chapter 2). It is also noted that Chapter 13 of the USMCA provides that the United States will apply the same rules of origin to Mexican imports for government procurement as it does for other trade. The United States has the same obligation to Canada under Article IV:5 of the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement. While the substantial transformation standard already applies by statute (19 U.S.C. 2518(4)(B)), CBP’s proposed application of the part 102 rules to make these substantial transformation determinations would ensure the consistency of CBP determinations for goods imported from Mexico and Canada. The proposed regulatory change will specifically provide that, when making country of origin determinations for purposes of subpart B of part 177, the part 102 rules will be applied by CBP to determine whether goods imported into the United States from Canada or Mexico previously underwent a substantial transformation in Canada or Mexico. The proposed regulatory change would not affect the origin determinations other agencies make related to procurement. III. Discussion of Proposed Amendments Pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 4535(a), the Secretary of the Treasury has the authority to prescribe such regulations as may be necessary to implement the USMCA. Section 103(b)(1) of the USMCA Act (19 U.S.C. 4513(b)(1)) requires that initial regulations necessary or appropriate to carry out the actions required by or authorized under the USMCA Act or proposed in the Statement of Administrative Action approved under 19 U.S.C. 4511(a)(2) to implement the USMCA shall, to the maximum extent feasible, be prescribed within one year after the date on which the USMCA enters into force. The Secretary also has general rulemaking authority, pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 1624, to make such regulations as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, related to the country of origin requirements for imported articles of foreign origin. The Secretary also has authority under 19 U.S.C. 1502 to regulate the procedures for issuing binding rulings, and 19 U.S.C. 2515(b)(1) requires the Secretary to make rulings and determinations as to E:\FR\FM\06JYP1.SGM 06JYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 126 / Tuesday, July 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules substantial transformation under 19 U.S.C. 2518(4)(B). CBP is proposing to amend the scope provision in 19 CFR part 102 to apply the substantial transformation standard consistently across country of origin determinations CBP makes for imported goods from the USMCA countries of Canada and Mexico for non-preferential purposes.5 Specifically, CBP proposes to amend section 102.0 to extend the scope of part 102 to state that the rules set forth in §§ 102.1 through 102.18 and 102.20 are intended to apply to CBP’s country of origin determinations for non-preferential purposes for goods imported from Canada and Mexico. CBP is also proposing to amend subpart B of 19 CFR part 177 to add a cross-reference to clarify that, for ‘‘country of origin’’ in § 177.22(a), the determination pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 2515(b)(1) as to whether an article has been substantially transformed into a new and different article of commerce with a name, character, or use distinct from that of the article or articles from which it was so transformed, for purposes of granting waivers of certain ‘‘Buy American’’ restrictions, must be made using the rules set forth in §§ 102.1 through 102.18 and 102.20 of title 19 of the CFR for goods from Canada and Mexico. IV. Statutory and Regulatory Authority jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS A. Executive Orders 13563 and 12866 Executive Orders 13563 and 12866 direct agencies to assess the costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety effects, distributive impacts, and equity). Executive Order 13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and benefits, of reducing costs, of harmonizing rules, and of promoting flexibility. This rulemaking is a ‘‘significant regulatory action,’’ although not an economically significant regulatory action, under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866. Accordingly, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has reviewed this regulation. Background and Purpose of Rule All merchandise of foreign origin imported into the United States must generally be marked with its country of origin, and it is subject to a country of origin determination by CBP.6 The country of origin of imported goods may 5 See 6 See be used as a factor to determine preferential trade treatment, such as eligibility under various trade agreements and special duty preference legislation, like the Generalized System of Preferences. The country of origin of imported goods is also used to determine non-preferential trade treatment, such as admissibility, marking, and trade relief.7 Importers must exercise reasonable care in determining the country of origin of their goods and often make this determination on their own. However, some importers may seek advice from CBP to determine the country of origin for their goods for preferential and/or non-preferential purposes. CBP applies two methods for determining the country of origin of imports for non-preferential purposes, as stated above. One method involves case-by-case adjudication to determine whether the goods have been substantially transformed in a particular country, relying primarily on judicial precedent and past administrative rulings. The other method consists of codified rules in part 102 of title 19 of the Code of Federal Regulations (19 CFR part 102) (referred to as the part 102 rules), which are also used to determine whether the goods have been substantially transformed, but are primarily expressed through specific changes in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) classification, often referred to as a ‘‘tariff shift.’’ Both the case-by-case and tariff shift methods implement the substantial transformation standard and are intended to lead to the same result. Prior to the USMCA, under the NAFTA, country of origin marking determinations were made using the NAFTA marking rules codified in 19 CFR part 102 that specify whether a good imported from Canada or Mexico that is not entirely of Canadian or Mexican origin has been substantially transformed through processes that resulted in changes in the tariff classification (i.e., tariff shifts) in Canada or Mexico. To determine the country of origin of goods imported from Canada or Mexico for other nonpreferential purposes (i.e., purposes other than marking), CBP employed case-by-case adjudication to determine whether such goods were substantially transformed in those NAFTA countries. These different non-preferential country of origin-determination methods required some importers to determine and declare two different countries of origin for the same imported good (e.g., Canada and China). supra footnote 4. 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 CFR part 134. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:39 Jul 02, 2021 Jkt 253001 7 See PO 00000 supra footnote 4. Frm 00017 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 35425 The USMCA, which recently superseded the NAFTA, was generally silent as to how the country of origin should be determined for goods imported from Canada and Mexico for marking and other non-preferential purposes. However, CBP is concurrently publishing an IFR in this issue of the Federal Register that, among other things, continues to apply the existing part 102 rules for determining the country of origin for marking of goods imported from Canada or Mexico. In this proposed rule, CBP proposes to expand the scope of the part 102 rules to provide that those rules are also to be generally applicable for all other (i.e., other than marking) non-preferential origin determinations made by CBP for goods imported from the USMCA countries of Canada and Mexico. CBP’s application of the part 102 rules would not, however, affect similar determinations made by other agencies, such as the Department of Commerce’s scope determinations in antidumping or countervailing duty proceedings (see 19 CFR 351.225). With this regulatory change, all nonpreferential country of origin determinations by CBP for goods imported from Canada or Mexico would be based on substantial transformation pursuant to the tariff shift rules required by 19 CFR part 102. This would eliminate the need for some importers of products from Canada or Mexico to request two different non-preferential determinations—one for country of origin marking and one for case-by-case adjudication for other non-preferential purposes—to confirm CBP’s treatment of their imports and avoid potentially different determinations. The rulemaking would also eliminate the need for some importers to comply with requirements to declare two different countries of origin for the same imported good (e.g., Canada and China). CBP is proposing these changes to simplify and standardize country of origin determinations by CBP for all non-preferential purposes for goods imported from Canada or Mexico. Population Affected by Rule This rulemaking would directly affect certain importers of goods from Canada and Mexico and the U.S. Government (particularly CBP). In fiscal year (FY) 2019, 38,832 importers 8 made 2.6 million non-NAFTA-preference entries 8 Based on unique importer of record (IOR) numbers of importers who entered goods in FY 2019. In some cases, multiple IOR numbers correspond to the same entity. E:\FR\FM\06JYP1.SGM 06JYP1 35426 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 126 / Tuesday, July 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS of goods from Canada and Mexico.9 All of these entries were subject to nonpreferential country of origin marking requirements, while some of these goods were also subject to other nonpreferential country of origin determinations, like trade remedies, that involve case-by-case adjudication. Around the same time, in FY 2020 and the start of FY 2021, CBP issued 52 rulings determining the origin of goods imported from Canada and Mexico for non-preferential purposes.10 These rulings, except for those involving the importation of certain textile and apparel products, employed case-bycase adjudication to determine whether such goods were substantially transformed in Canada or Mexico or other countries. In the future, CBP projects that around 38,832 importers would continue to make around 2.6 million entries of goods from Canada and Mexico that are subject to nonpreferential trade treatment, with or without this rule, each year. An unknown share of these importers would enter goods subject to nonmarking-related non-preferential treatment. CBP also projects that about 52 case-by-case non-preferential country of origin determinations would be requested and issued each year in the absence of this rulemaking based on the historical number of case-by-case adjudications. This rulemaking would eliminate such case-by-case determination requests and the issuance of such rulings. Costs and Revenue Impacts of Rule This rulemaking may introduce changes in non-preferential payments from importers to the U.S. Government. In addition, there may be minimal costs for some importers, as discussed in this section. Changing from case-by-case adjudications for other non-preferential origin purposes to part 102’s tariff shift rules may impose some costs on importers with goods from Canada and Mexico. Importers who switch from using these two determination methods for non-preferential origin purposes to just the part 102 rules with this rulemaking may, for example, incur some one-time, minor costs to adjust their inventory tracking systems and Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) entries to reflect the part 102based non-marking, non-preferential country of origin for their goods in those cases where origin determinations 9 These goods were not eligible for the generalized system of preferences. 10 Based on data from October 1, 2019, to December 16, 2020. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:39 Jul 02, 2021 Jkt 253001 under the current practice have been inconsistent.11 In such instances, importers may also need to adjust their business practices to ensure that they properly use the part 102 rules for all non-preferential country of origin purposes when the goods are sourced from Canada or Mexico under this proposed rule. These same importers must also ensure that they use case-bycase adjudications for any goods sourced outside of Canada or Mexico that are subject to non-preferential treatment. The extent of these costs on importers is unknown, but likely to be minimal. CBP requests public comments on these costs and any other costs of this rule to importers. This rule would not introduce costs to CBP. In addition to costs, applying the part 102 (tariff shift) rules of origin rather than case-by-case adjudications to determine the origin for other nonpreferential purposes could lead to trade policy outcomes different from historical and current practice. If an importer’s goods are subject to inconsistent origin determinations under the current practice, this proposed rule may lead to a change in non-preferential payments from importers to the U.S. Government, which would result in an equal change in U.S. Government revenue. The number of instances where an importer would receive a different nonpreferential country of origin determination under this rulemaking compared to current practice would likely be low, especially considering both methods apply the same substantial transformation standard and are intended to reach the same results. The specific effects of these different determinations on revenue are unknown. Any change in payments from importers to the U.S. Government as a result of this rulemaking are considered transfers rather than costs or benefits as they are moving money from one part of society to another.12 CBP requests public comments on the potential number of instances where a good would be treated differently under trade remedy laws and relief under the 11 As an example, if an importer has an inventory tracking system that identifies the non-marking, non-preferential country of origin for its goods from Canada and Mexico based on existing case-by-case adjudication rules, with this rule, that importer may need to revise the system to ensure that it identifies the goods based on the part 102 rules if the importer is importing goods subject to inconsistent origin determinations under the current practice. 12 As described in OMB Circular A–4, transfer payments occur when ‘‘. . . monetary payments from one group [are made] to another [group] that do not affect total resources available to society.’’ Examples of transfer payments include payments for insurance and fees paid to a government agency for services that an agency already provides. PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 new rule compared to historical and current practice and any related effects on revenue. Benefits of Rule Besides costs and revenue impacts, this rulemaking would introduce benefits to importers and the U.S. Government. Importers must exercise reasonable care when determining the country of origin for their goods, which can include researching previous caseby-case adjudications on substantial transformation. This rulemaking would enhance the consistency of country of origin marking and non-preferential country of origin determinations for goods imported from Canada and Mexico. All determinations made by CBP would be based on substantial transformation through application of the part 102 rules. This change would allow importers of goods from Canada and Mexico to comply with just one non-preferential country of origin determination made by CBP for their goods rather than two. The overall benefit to importers of complying with just one country of origin determination method from CBP for their goods from Canada and Mexico is unknown. Some importers who require CBP ruling requests to determine the country of origin for nonpreferential purposes would enjoy greater benefits from the transition to just one non-preferential determination method. As previously described, importers of goods from Canada and Mexico must currently request two country of origin rulings from CBP if they cannot determine the country of origin for non-preferential purposes— one for country of origin marking and one for case-by-case adjudication for other non-preferential purposes. CBP estimates that a case-by-case determination request takes an importer at least 8 hours on average to request, at a time cost of $250.96 per request according to an importer’s average hourly time value of $31.37.13 Based on 13 CBP bases this $31.37 loaded wage rate on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) 2020 median hourly wage rate for Cargo and Freight Agents ($21.04), which CBP assumes best represents the wage for importers, multiplied by the ratio of BLS’ average 2020 total compensation to wages and salaries for Office and Administrative Support occupations (1.4912), the assumed occupational group for importers, to account for non-salary employee benefits. Source of median wage rate: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Employment Statistics, ‘‘May 2020 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates United States- Median Hourly Wage by Occupation Code- Occupation Code 43–5011.’’ Updated March 31, 2020. Available at https://www.bls.gov/oes/ 2020/may/oes_nat.htm. Accessed June 1, 2021. The total compensation to wages and salaries ratio is equal to the calculated average of the 2020 quarterly E:\FR\FM\06JYP1.SGM 06JYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 126 / Tuesday, July 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS this time cost and the historical average of about 52 case-by-case adjudication requests for non-preferential country of origin determinations for goods imported from Canada and Mexico, CBP estimates that importers would save at least $13,050 in research time costs each year from no longer submitting case-bycase adjudication requests to CBP for their non-preferential country of origin requests for goods from Canada and Mexico. These requests may impose an unknown amount of additional time and resource costs on importers from an importer’s gathering of information for the process and drafting the request, which could be avoided with this rulemaking. Furthermore, CBP’s country of origin determinations sometimes result in an imported good being determined to be a product of Canada or Mexico for some customs purposes and a good of a third country for other purposes. This rulemaking would eliminate these different determinations, which would standardize country of origin determinations for non-preferential purposes for goods imported from the USMCA countries of Canada and Mexico. CBP’s application of the part 102 rules would not, however, affect similar determinations made by other agencies, such as the Department of Commerce’s scope determinations in antidumping or countervailing duty proceedings (see 19 CFR 351.225). This standardized approach would provide additional benefits to importers, but the extent of these benefits is unknown. CBP requests public comments on the benefits of this change to importers. Although this rulemaking would eliminate the need for some importers to request case-by-case country of origin determinations for non-preferential purposes, it may require such importers to now request classification determinations for their goods imported from Canada and Mexico. The extent of these new classification requests is unknown. To the extent that importers would need to request additional estimates (shown under Mar., June, Sep., Dec.) of the total compensation cost per hour worked for Office and Administrative Support occupations ($28.8875) divided by the calculated average of the 2020 quarterly estimates (shown under Mar., June, Sep., Dec.) of wages and salaries cost per hour worked for the same occupation category ($19.3725). Source of total compensation to wages and salaries ratio data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employer Costs for Employee Compensation. Employer Costs for Employee Compensation Historical Listing March 2004– December 2020, ‘‘Table 3. Civilian workers, by occupational group: employer costs per hours worked for employee compensation and costs as a percentage of total compensation, 2004–2020.’’ March 2021. Available at https://www.bls.gov/web/ ecec/ececqrtn.pdf. Accessed June 1, 2021. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:39 Jul 02, 2021 Jkt 253001 classification determinations in place of case-by-case adjudications, the benefits of this rulemaking to importers would be lower. CBP requests public comments on any other benefits of this rulemaking to importers. As previously stated, CBP issued 52 non-preferential determinations adjudicated on a case-by-case basis for goods imported from Canada and Mexico from October 2019 to December 2020. This rulemaking would eliminate the need for CBP to make such case-bycase determinations for similar goods imported from Canada and Mexico in the future. The current method for CBP to determine country of origin on a caseby-case basis for non-preferential purposes is generally more time and resource-intensive than the tariff-shift method. For CBP, country of origin determinations for non-preferential purposes based on case-by-case adjudications are highly individual, fact-intensive exercises. This rulemaking would largely make it easier for CBP to administer rules of origin for non-preferential country of origin determinations for goods imported from Canada and Mexico by employing the codified part 102 rules for both country of origin marking and other nonpreferential purposes. By eliminating the need for importers to request nonpreferential case-by-case determinations of their goods from Canada and Mexico, CBP would save an average of 5 hours to 40 hours currently dedicated to each case-by-case adjudication. This would translate to a time cost saving of between $494.90 and $3,959.20 based on a CBP attorney’s average hourly time value of $98.98.14 CBP estimates that with this proposed rule, CBP would no longer have to make 52 case-by-case rulings determining the origin of goods imported from Canada or Mexico for non-preferential purposes according to historical data. Considering these forgone determinations and the average time cost per determination, CBP would save approximately $25,735 to $205,878 per year from this rulemaking. These benefits would represent time cost savings to CBP rather than budgetary savings, meaning that CBP could use the savings to perform other agency missions, such as facilitating trade. As previously stated, this rulemaking may increase requests for classifications of goods imported from Canada and Mexico, though the extent of these requests is unknown. To the extent that CBP would need to conduct additional 14 CBP bases this wage on the FY 2019 salary, benefits, and non-salary costs (i.e., fully loaded wage) of the national average of CBP attorney positions. PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 35427 classifications in place of case-by-case adjudications, the benefits of this rulemaking to CBP would be lower. Net Impact of Rule In summary, this rulemaking would introduce costs, revenue changes, and benefits to importers and the U.S. Government. Some importers, for example, whose goods are subject to inconsistent origin determinations under the current practice, may incur minor costs to adjust their inventory tracking systems, ACE entries, and business practices to reflect the new country of origin determination for other non-preferential purposes, as described above. Transitioning to the proposed tariff shift system could also lead to an increase or decrease in nonpreferential payments from importers, which would lead to an equal increase or decrease in revenue to the U.S. Government. The exact amounts of these costs and revenue changes are unknown, but they should be small considering the tariff shift methodology implements the same substantial transformation standard as the existing case-by-case method. Additionally, the rule would implement a simpler, standardized administration system for country of origin determinations made by CBP for all non-preferential purposes for goods imported from Canada and Mexico that would save importers and the U.S. Government time and resources. Importers could save at least an estimated $13,050 in time costs annually from this rulemaking, while the U.S. Government could save between $25,735 and $205,878 in time costs each year. Overall, CBP believes this rulemaking’s benefits would outweigh the costs. B. Regulatory Flexibility Act The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA; 5 U.S.C. 601 et. seq.), as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement and Fairness Act of 1996, requires agencies to assess the impact of regulations on small entities. A small entity may be a small business (defined as any independently owned and operated business not dominant in its field that qualifies as a small business per the Small Business Act); a small notfor-profit organization; or a small governmental jurisdiction (locality with fewer than 50,000 people). This rulemaking proposes to expand the scope of the 19 CFR part 102 rules to provide that those rules are to be generally applicable to all nonpreferential country of origin determinations made by CBP for goods imported from the USMCA countries of Canada and Mexico. With this change, E:\FR\FM\06JYP1.SGM 06JYP1 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 35428 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 126 / Tuesday, July 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules country of origin marking and all other non-preferential country of origin determinations made by CBP for goods imported from Canada or Mexico would be based on substantial transformations occurring with tariff shifts as defined under part 102. CBP’s application of the part 102 rules would not, however, affect similar determinations made by other agencies, such as the Department of Commerce’s scope determinations in antidumping or countervailing duty proceedings (see 19 CFR 351.225). In FY 2019, 38,832 importers 15 made 2.6 million non-NAFTA-preference entries of goods from Canada and Mexico, valued at $155 billion.16 All of these entries were subject to nonpreferential country of origin marking requirements, while some were also subject to other non-preferential country of origin determinations, like trade remedies, that involve case-by-case adjudication. CBP does not have precise data on the number of importers who entered goods from Canada and Mexico that were subject to country of origin requirements for marking and another non-preferential purpose that would be affected by this rulemaking. Based on available FY 2019 data on goods from Canada and Mexico subject to part 102 rules for marking and that involve caseby-case adjudication for the nonpreferential purposes of Section 201 and Section 232 duties and quotas, as well as the 38,832 importers who entered non-NAFTA preference goods from Canada and Mexico in FY 2019, CBP estimates that this rulemaking could affect between approximately 10,000 and 38,832 unique importers entering goods from the USMCA countries of Canada and Mexico each year. These importers would range from individual buyers (households or businesses) to large businesses across many different industries. Some industries and businesses may be more affected than others, depending on the ultimate country of origin determination and the classification of the merchandise being imported. The exact number of small importers affected by this rulemaking is unknown. However, according to a separate CBP analysis, the vast majority of importers are classified as small businesses. Because this rulemaking would directly affect importers and the vast majority of importers are small businesses, the rule could affect a substantial number of small entities. 15 Based on unique importer of record numbers of importers who entered goods in FY 2019. In some cases, multiple IOR numbers correspond to the same entity. 16 These goods were not eligible for the Generalized System of Preferences. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:39 Jul 02, 2021 Jkt 253001 The Regulatory Flexibility Act does not specify thresholds for economic significance but instead gives agencies flexibility to determine the appropriate threshold for a particular rule. Changing from case-by-case adjudications for other non-preferential origin purposes to part 102’s tariff shift rules may impose some costs on importers with goods from Canada and Mexico. Importers who switch from using these two determination methods for nonpreferential origin purposes to just the part 102 rules with this rulemaking may incur some one-time, minor costs to adjust their inventory tracking systems and Automated Commercial Environment entries to reflect the part 102-based non-marking-related, nonpreferential country of origin for their goods. As an example, if an importer has an inventory tracking system that identifies the non-marking, nonpreferential country of origin for its goods from Canada and Mexico based on existing case-by-case adjudication rules, with this rulemaking, that importer may need to revise the system to ensure that it identifies the goods based on the part 102 rules if the importer is importing goods subject to inconsistent origin determinations under the current practice. These determinations should match the country of origin determinations that importers must already make for nonpreferential marking purposes. According to representatives of the Commercial Operations Advisory Committee, these costs will be approximately $2,000-$3,000 per company. Some importers who source the same goods from Canada or Mexico and another country may also need to adjust their business practices to ensure that they properly use the part 102 rules for customs non-preferential country of origin purposes when the good is sourced from Canada or Mexico once this rulemaking is in effect and use caseby-case adjudications for any goods sourced outside of Canada or Mexico that are subject to non-preferential treatment. According to representatives of the Commercial Operations Advisory Committee, these costs are minimal. For mid to large companies, these costs would total at most $2,000 to $3,000 (note that this is in addition to a similar estimate above). Smaller companies would have smaller costs. CBP does not believe that these costs, a maximum of $4,000–$6,000, would have a significant economic impact on importers, including those considered small under the RFA. The annual value of importations average $4 million per importer, so these one-time costs make PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 up less than one percent of the value of their importations. In addition, trade members have expressed that the nonmonetized benefits of operating under a single set of rules well outweigh the minimal costs to comply with this rulemaking. Therefore, CBP certifies that this rulemaking, if finalized, will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. CBP welcomes comments on this conclusion. C. Paperwork Reduction Act The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507(d)) requires that CBP consider the impact of paperwork and other information collection burdens imposed on the public. CBP has determined that there is no collection of information that requires a control number assigned by the Office of Management and Budget. Signing Authority This rulemaking is being issued in accordance with 19 CFR 0.1(a)(1), pertaining to the authority of the Secretary of the Treasury (or that of his or her delegate) to approve regulations related to certain customs revenue functions. List of Subjects 19 CFR Part 102 Canada, Customs duties and inspections, Imports, Mexico, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Trade agreements. 19 CFR Part 177 Administrative practice and procedure, Customs duties and inspection, Government procurement, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. Proposed Amendments to the Regulations For the reasons given above, it is proposed to amend parts 102 and 177 as set forth below: PART 102—RULES OF ORIGIN 1. The general authority citation for part 102 is revised to read as follows: ■ Authority: 19 U.S.C. 66, 1202 (General Note 3(i), Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States), 1624, 3592, 4513. 2. Amend § 102.0 by revising the second sentence and adding four sentences after the second sentence to read as follows: ■ § 102.0 Scope. * * * For goods imported into the United States from Canada or Mexico and entered for consumption, or E:\FR\FM\06JYP1.SGM 06JYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 126 / Tuesday, July 6, 2021 / Proposed Rules withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, before [EFFECTIVE DATE OF FINAL RULE], these specific purposes are: country of origin marking; determining the rate of duty and staging category applicable to originating textile and apparel products as set out in Section 2 (Tariff Elimination) of Annex 300–B (Textile and Apparel Goods) under NAFTA; and determining the rate of duty and staging category applicable to an originating good as set out in Annex 302.2 (Tariff Elimination) under NAFTA. CBP will determine the country of origin for all non-preferential purposes for goods imported into the United States from Canada or Mexico and entered for consumption, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, on or after [EFFECTIVE DATE OF FINAL RULE], using the rules set forth in §§ 102.1 through 102.18 and 102.20. The rules in this part regarding goods wholly obtained or produced in a country are intended to apply consistently for all such purposes. The rules in this part which determine when a good becomes a new and different article or a new or different article of commerce as a result of manufacturing processes in a given country are also intended to apply consistently for all purposes where this requirement exists for ‘‘country of origin’’ or ‘‘product of’’ determinations made by CBP for goods imported from Canada or Mexico. The rules in this part do not affect similar determinations made by other agencies, such as the Department of Commerce’s scope determinations in antidumping or countervailing duty proceedings (see 19 CFR 351.225). * * * 3. The general authority citation for part 177 is revised to read as follows: ■ Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301; 19 U.S.C. 66, 1202 (General Note 3(i), Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States), 1502, 1624, 1625, 2515. 4. Amend § 177.22 by adding a sentence to the end of paragraph (a) to read as follows: ■ jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Definitions. (a) * * * (For goods imported into the United States after processing in Canada or Mexico and entered for consumption, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, on or after [EFFECTIVE DATE OF FINAL RULE], substantial transformation will be determined using the rules set forth in §§ 102.1 through 102.18 and 102.20.) * * * * * Troy A. Miller, the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:39 Jul 02, 2021 Jkt 253001 Robert F. Altneu, Director, Regulations & Disclosure Law Division, Regulations & Rulings, Office of Trade, U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Approved: Timothy E. Skud, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury. [FR Doc. 2021–14265 Filed 7–1–21; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 9111–14–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Patent and Trademark Office 37 CFR Part 1 [Docket No. PTO–P–2021–0006] RIN 0651–AD53 Standard for Presentation of Nucleotide and Amino Acid Sequence Listings Using XML (eXtensible Markup Language) in Patent Applications To Implement WIPO Standard ST.26; Incorporation by Reference United States Patent and Trademark Office, Department of Commerce. ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking. AGENCY: The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO or Office) is proposing to revise the rules of practice for submitting biological sequence data associated with disclosures of nucleotide and amino acid sequences in patent applications by incorporating by reference the provisions of Standard ST.26 into the USPTO rules. Other conforming changes to accommodate for proposed new rules of practice based on the new standard are also included. These proposed amendments would apply to international and national applications filed on or after January 1, 2022. In addition to simplifying the process for applicants filing in multiple countries, a requirement to submit a single sequence listing in eXtensible Mark-up Language (XML) format will result in better preservation, accessibility, and sorting of the submitted sequence data for the public. DATES: Comments must be received by September 7, 2021 to ensure consideration. SUMMARY: PART 177—ADMINISTRATIVE RULINGS § 177.22 Commissioner, having reviewed and approved this document, is delegating the authority to electronically sign this document to Robert F. Altneu, who is the Director of the Regulations and Disclosure Law Division for CBP, for purposes of publication in the Federal Register. PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 35429 For reasons of Government efficiency, comments must be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov. To submit comments via www.regulations.gov, enter docket number PTO–P–2021–0006 on the homepage and click ‘‘Search.’’ The site will provide a search results page listing all documents associated with this docket. Find a reference to this notice and click on the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in ADOBE® portable document format or MICROSOFT WORD® format. Because comments will be made available for public inspection, information that the submitter does not desire to make public, such as an address or phone number, should not be included in the comments. Visit the Federal eRulemaking Portal website (www.regulations.gov) for additional instructions on providing comments via the portal. If electronic submission of comments is not feasible due to lack of access to a computer and/ or the internet, please contact the USPTO using the contact information below for special instructions. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mary C. Till, Senior Legal Advisor, Office of Patent Legal Administration, Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Patents, by email at Mary.Till@ uspto.gov; or Ali Salimi, Senior Legal Advisor, Office of Patent Legal Administration, Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Patents, by email at Ali.Salimi@uspto.gov. Contact via telephone at 571–272–7704 for special instructions on submission of comments. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: ADDRESSES: Table of Contents I. Background a. Summary of Changes b. Introduction c. Standard ST.26 d. Benefits e. WIPO Authoring and Validation Tool (WIPO Sequence) f. Applicability II. Discussion of Specific Rules III. Rulemaking Considerations I. Background a. Summary of Changes Standard ST.26 is the new international standard developed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and member states and adopted by the same. Under Standard ST.26, patent applications that contain disclosures of nucleotides and/ or amino acid sequence(s) must present E:\FR\FM\06JYP1.SGM 06JYP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 126 (Tuesday, July 6, 2021)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 35422-35429]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-14265]



[[Page 35422]]

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DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY

19 CFR Parts 102 and 177

[USCBP-2021-0025]
RIN 1515-AE63


Non-Preferential Origin Determinations for Merchandise Imported 
From Canada or Mexico for Implementation of the Agreement Between the 
United States of America, the United Mexican States, and Canada (USMCA)

AGENCY: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland 
Security; Department of the Treasury.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: This document proposes to amend the U.S. Customs and Border 
Protection (CBP) regulations regarding non-preferential origin 
determinations for merchandise imported from Canada or Mexico. 
Specifically, this document proposes that CBP will apply certain 
tariff-based rules of origin in the CBP regulations for all non-
preferential determinations made by CBP, specifically, to determine 
when a good imported from Canada or Mexico has been substantially 
transformed resulting in an article with a new name, character, or use. 
For consistency, this document also proposes to modify the CBP 
regulations for certain country of origin determinations for government 
procurement. Collectively, the proposed amendments in this notice of 
proposed rulemaking (NPRM) are intended to reduce administrative 
burdens and inconsistency for non-preferential origin determinations 
for merchandise imported from Canada or Mexico for purposes of the 
implementation of the Agreement Between the United States of America, 
the United Mexican States, and Canada (USMCA). Elsewhere in this issue 
of the Federal Register, CBP is publishing an interim final rule to 
amend various regulations to implement the USMCA for preferential 
tariff treatment claims. The interim final rule amends the CBP 
regulations, inter alia, to apply certain tariff-based rules of origin 
for determining the country of origin for the marking of goods imported 
from Canada or Mexico.

DATES: Comments must be received by August 5, 2021.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by docket number USCBP-
2021-00X25 by one of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal at https://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Mail: Due to COVID-19-related restrictions, CBP has 
temporarily suspended its ability to receive public comments by mail.
    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name 
and docket number for this rulemaking. All comments received will be 
posted without change to https://www.regulations.gov, including any 
personal information provided. For detailed instructions on submitting 
comments and additional information on the rulemaking process, see the 
``Public Participation'' heading of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION 
section of this document.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments received, go to https://www.regulations.gov. Due to the 
relevant COVID-19-related restrictions, CBP has temporarily suspended 
on-site public inspection of the public comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Operational Aspects: Queena Fan, 
Director, USMCA Center, Office of Trade, U.S. Customs and Border 
Protection, (202) 738-8946 or [email protected].
    Legal Aspects: Craig T. Clark, Director, Commercial and Trade 
Facilitation Division, Regulations and Rulings, Office of Trade, U.S. 
Customs and Border Protection, (202) 325-0276 or 
[email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Public Participation

    Interested persons are invited to participate in this rulemaking by 
submitting written data, views, or arguments on all aspects of this 
notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). U.S. Customs and Border 
Protection (CBP) also invites comments that relate to the economic, 
environmental, or federalism effects that might result from this 
proposed rule. Comments that will provide the most assistance to CBP 
will reference a specific portion of the NPRM, explain the reason for 
any recommended change, and include data, information or authority that 
support such recommended change.

II. Background

    The country of origin of merchandise imported into the customs 
territory of the United States (the fifty states, the District of 
Columbia, and Puerto Rico) is important for several reasons. The 
country of origin of merchandise determines the rate of duty, 
admissibility, quota, eligibility for procurement by government 
agencies, and marking requirements. There are various rules of origin 
for goods imported into the customs territory of the United States, 
generally referred to as ``preferential'' and ``non-preferential'' 
rules of origin. ``Preferential'' rules are those that apply to 
merchandise to determine eligibility for special treatment, including 
reduced or zero tariff rates, under various trade agreements or duty 
preference legislation, e.g., Generalized System of Preferences. ``Non-
preferential'' rules are those that generally apply for all other 
purposes.\1\ CBP uses the substantial transformation standard to 
determine the country of origin of goods for non-preferential purposes. 
For a substantial transformation to occur, ``a new and different 
article must emerge, `having a distinctive name, character or use.''' 
Anheuser-Busch Brewing Ass'n v. United States, 207 U.S. 556, 562 (1908) 
(quoting Hartranft v. Wiegmann, 121 U.S. 609, 615 (1887)).
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    \1\ The term ``non-preferential purposes'' generally refers to 
purposes set forth in laws, regulations, and administrative 
determinations of general application applied to determine the 
country of origin of goods not related to the granting of tariff 
preferences pursuant to a trade agreement or a trade preference 
program such as the Generalized System of Preferences. Non-
preferential purposes include antidumping and countervailing duties; 
safeguard measures; origin marking requirements; and any 
discriminatory quantitative restrictions or tariff quotas. They also 
include rules of origin used for trade statistics and for 
determining eligibility for government procurement. See, e.g., Art. 
I, Uruguay Round Agreement on Rules of Origin. They do not include 
the rules of origin used to determine eligibility for preferential 
tariff treatment under trade agreements unless otherwise explicitly 
specified in those agreements. Notwithstanding the above, under 
Title VII of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, merchandise within 
the scope of the Department of Commerce's antidumping and/or 
countervailing duty proceedings may be associated with a country of 
origin (for purposes of the scope of antidumping/countervailing 
duties) that is different from the country of origin determined by 
CBP for other purposes.
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    CBP applies two different methods for determining if merchandise 
has been substantially transformed. One method involves case-by-case 
adjudication, relying primarily on tests articulated in judicial 
precedent and past administrative rulings. The other method consists of 
codified rules in part 102 of title 19 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations (19 CFR part 102) (referred to as the part 102 rules), 
which are primarily expressed through specified differences in the 
Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) classification 
of the good and its materials. This method is often referred to as the 
``change in tariff classification''

[[Page 35423]]

or ``tariff shift'' method. Both the case-by-case and tariff shift 
methods are intended to produce the same determinations as to origin 
because both apply the same substantial transformation standard.
    CBP first promulgated the part 102 rules in 1994 to fulfill the 
commitment of the United States under Annex 311 of the North American 
Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which required the parties to establish 
rules for determining whether a good is a good of a NAFTA party (i.e., 
the United States, Mexico, or Canada). In contrast to the case-by-case 
method, the part 102 rules were intended to provide for more certainty, 
transparency, and consistency in application of origin decisions. They 
codify, rather than constitute an alternative to, the substantial 
transformation standard and are intended to implement the standard 
consistently.\2\
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    \2\ See ``Rules for Determining the Country of Origin of a Good 
for Purposes of Annex 311 of the North American Free Trade 
Agreement; Rules of Origin Applicable to Imported Merchandise,'' 60 
FR 22312, 22314 (May 5, 1995), citing, in part, ``Rules of Origin 
Applicable to Imported Merchandise,'' 59 FR 141 (Jan. 3, 1994).
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Country of Origin Marking Requirements for Imported Merchandise From 
Canada or Mexico Pursuant to the Agreement Between the United States of 
America, the United Mexican States, and Canada (USMCA) \3\
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    \3\ The Agreement Between the United States of America, the 
United Mexican States, and Canada is the official name of the USMCA 
treaty. Please be aware that, in other contexts, the same document 
is also referred to as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
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    On November 30, 2018, the ``Protocol Replacing the North American 
Free Trade Agreement with the Agreement Between the United States of 
America, the United Mexican States, and Canada'' (the Protocol) was 
signed to replace the NAFTA. Section 601 of the United States-Mexico-
Canada Agreement Implementation Act (USMCA Act), Public Law 116-113, 
134 Stat. 11 (19 U.S.C. Chapter 29), repealed the North American Free 
Trade Agreement Implementation Act (NAFTA Implementation Act), Public 
Law 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057 (19 U.S.C. 3301 et seq.), as of the date 
that the USMCA entered into force, July 1, 2020. The NAFTA provisions 
set forth in part 181 of title 19 of the CFR (19 CFR part 181) and in 
General Note 12, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States 
(HTSUS), continue to apply to goods entered for consumption, or 
withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, prior to July 1, 2020. On 
July 1, 2020, CBP published an interim final rule (IFR) in the Federal 
Register (CBP Dec. 20-11) amending 19 CFR part 181 and adding a new 
part 182 of title 19 of the CFR (19 CFR part 182) containing several 
USMCA provisions, including the Uniform Regulations regarding rules of 
origin (appendix A to part 182). See 85 FR 39690 (July 1, 2020).
    In another IFR published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal 
Register (``Agreement Between the United States of America, the United 
Mexican States, and Canada (USMCA) Implementing Regulations Related to 
the Marking Rules, Tariff-rate Quotas, and Other USMCA Provisions'' 
(RIN 1515-AE56)), CBP is amending the CBP regulations to include 
additional USMCA implementing regulations in 19 CFR part 182 and to 
amend other portions of title 19 of the CFR. The IFR includes 
amendments to parts 102 and 134 of title 19 of the CFR (19 CFR parts 
102 and 134) to apply the rules of origin set forth in 19 CFR part 102 
for determining the country of origin for the marking of goods imported 
from Canada or Mexico. Those amendments facilitate the transition from 
the NAFTA to the USMCA by maintaining the status quo for country of 
origin for marking determinations.

Non-Preferential Origin Determinations for Merchandise Imported From 
Canada or Mexico

    Although the NAFTA Implementation Act was repealed by the USMCA Act 
as of July 1, 2020, the part 102 rules remain in 19 CFR part 102 and 
are applicable for country of origin marking determinations for goods 
imported from Canada or Mexico under the USMCA (pursuant to the IFR, 
being concurrently published, as explained above). The part 102 rules, 
specifically Sec. Sec.  102.21 through 102.25, are also to be used by 
CBP to determine the country of origin of textile and apparel products 
(imported from all countries except from Israel (see 19 CFR 102.22)), 
including the administration of quantitative restrictions, if 
applicable.
    After the part 102 rules were promulgated in 1994, the rules were 
subsequently amended to also include references to specific U.S. trade 
agreements that incorporated those rules as part of the determination 
for trade preference eligibility, i.e., for preference purposes. For 
example, as indicated in the scope provision for part 102, the rules 
set forth in Sec. Sec.  102.1 through 102.21 also apply for purposes of 
determining whether an imported good is a new or different article of 
commerce under Sec.  10.769 of the United States-Morocco Free Trade 
Agreement regulations and Sec.  10.809 of the United States-Bahrain 
Free Trade Agreement regulations.
    Unlike the NAFTA, the USMCA does not refer to a marking 
requirement, except with regard to certain agricultural goods. For 
certain agricultural goods, the USMCA does contain a requirement that a 
good must first qualify to be marked as a good of Canada or Mexico in 
order to receive preferential tariff treatment under the USMCA. For 
most goods, only the general Uniform Regulations regarding rules of 
origin set forth in Appendix A of part 182 of title 19 (19 CFR part 
182) and the product-specific rules of origin contained in General Note 
11, HTSUS, are needed to determine whether a good is an originating 
good under the USMCA and therefore is eligible to receive preferential 
tariff treatment.
    The Secretary of the Treasury has general rulemaking authority, 
pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 1624, to make such regulations as may be 
necessary to carry out the provisions of section 304(a) of the Tariff 
Act of 1930, as amended, related to the country of origin requirements 
for imported articles of foreign origin. The Department of the Treasury 
and CBP have concluded that extending application of the well-
established part 102 rules to goods imported from the USMCA countries 
of Canada and Mexico will provide continuity for the importing 
community because those rules have been applied to all imports from 
these countries since 1994.\4\ The importing community has made 
extensive efforts to comply with the part 102 rules and CBP has 
significant experience in applying those rules to imported merchandise 
from Canada and Mexico. The part 102 rules, as codified, are a 
reliable, simplified, and standardized method for CBP when determining 
the country of origin for customs purposes.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ This rule does not apply for purposes of determining whether 
merchandise is subject to the scope of antidumping and 
countervailing duty proceedings under Title VII of the Tariff Act of 
1930, as amended, as such determinations fall under the authority of 
the Department of Commerce. Specifically, notwithstanding a CBP 
country of origin determination, that merchandise may be subject to 
the scope of antidumping and/or countervailing duty proceedings 
associated with a different country.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    When promulgating the part 102 rules in 1994, the U.S. Customs 
Service (now CBP) explained:

    . . . the long history of the substantial transformation rule, 
[and] its administration has not been without problems. These 
problems devolve from the fact that application of the substantial 
transformation rule is on a case-by-case basis and often involves 
subjective judgments as to what

[[Page 35424]]

constitutes a new and different article or as to whether processing 
has resulted in a new name, character, and use. As a result, 
application of the substantial transformation rule has remained 
essentially non-systematic in that a judicial or administrative 
determination in one case more often than not has little or no 
bearing on another case involving a different factual pattern. Thus, 
while judicial and administrative decisions involving the 
substantial transformation rule may have some value as restatements 
or refinements of the basic rule, they are often of little 
assistance in resolving individual cases involving the myriad of 
issues or tests that have arisen, such as the distinction between 
producer's goods and consumer's goods, the significance of further 
manufacturing or finishing operations, and the issue of dedication 
to use. The very fact that the substantial transformation rule has 
been the subject of a large number of judicial and administrative 
determinations is testament to the basic problem: The case-by-case 
approach, involving application of the rule based on specific sets 
of facts, has led to varied case-specific interpretations of the 
basic rule, resulting in a lack of predictability which in turn has 
engendered a significant degree of uncertainty both within Customs 
and in the trade community as regards the effect that a particular 
type of processing should have on an origin determination.

``Rules for Determining the Country of Origin of a Good for Purposes of 
Annex 311 of the North American Free Trade Agreement,'' 59 FR 110, 141 
(January 3, 1994).
    Importers of goods from Canada and Mexico are well-versed in the 
part 102 rules, and the greater specificity and transparency those 
rules provide will facilitate the determination of eligibility for 
USMCA tariff preferences for certain agricultural goods, as noted 
above. Accordingly, to make the transition from the NAFTA to the USMCA 
as smooth as possible for the importing community, CBP is amending 19 
CFR parts 102 and 134, in the IFR concurrently published today, to 
continue application of the part 102 rules to determine the country of 
origin for marking purposes of a good imported from Canada or Mexico.
    CBP has not previously applied the part 102 rules for non-
preferential origin determinations involving goods imported from Canada 
and Mexico other than for textile products and for purposes of 
determining country of origin marking. CBP has, instead, used case-by-
case adjudication for other non-preferential origin determinations. CBP 
makes such non-preferential origin determinations for purposes such as 
admissibility, quota, procurement by government agencies, and 
application of duties imposed under sections 301 to 307 of the Trade 
Act of 1974, as amended (19 U.S.C. 2411-2417, commonly referred to as 
``Section 301''). This means that importers of goods from Canada and 
Mexico are subject to two different non-preferential origin 
determinations for imported merchandise: One for marking; and, another 
for determining origin for other purposes. Consequently, these 
importers must also potentially comply with requirements to declare two 
different countries of origin for the same imported good (e.g., Canada 
and China). This burdens importers with unnecessary additional 
requirements, creates inconsistency, and reduces transparency.
    To address these burdens, CBP is proposing to amend the scope 
section of part 102 of title 19 of the CFR so that the substantial 
transformation standard will be applied consistently across all non-
preferential origin determinations that CBP makes for merchandise 
imported from Canada and Mexico. This purpose is accomplished by adding 
new language to the scope provision of the part 102 rules. The proposed 
regulatory change will obviate the need for importers of merchandise 
from Canada and Mexico wishing to comply with the various laws that 
require CBP origin determinations from having to request multiple non-
preferential country of origin determinations from CBP for a particular 
good. The proposed regulatory change also means that CBP will no longer 
need to issue rulings with multiple non-preferential origin 
determinations goods imported from Canada or Mexico, and there will no 
longer be rulings that conclude that a good imported from Canada or 
Mexico has two different origins under the USMCA (i.e., one for marking 
and one for other, customs non-preferential purposes). CBP's 
application of the part 102 rules would not, however, affect similar 
determinations made by other agencies, such as the Department of 
Commerce's scope determinations in antidumping or countervailing duty 
proceedings (see 19 CFR 351.225), determinations by the Agricultural 
Marketing Service under the Country of Origin Labeling (``COOL'') law 
(see 7 CFR part 65), or origin determinations made by other agencies 
for purposes of government procurement under the Federal Acquisition 
Regulation (see 48 CFR chapter 1).
    CBP is also proposing to make corresponding edits to part 177 of 
title 19 of the CFR, which sets forth the requirements for various 
types of administrative rulings. Specifically, subpart B of part 177 
applies to the issuance of country of origin advisory rulings and final 
determinations relating to government procurement for purposes of 
granting waivers of certain ``Buy American'' restrictions in U.S. law 
and practice for products from eligible countries. As noted in 19 CFR 
177.21, the subpart is intended to be applied consistent with the 
Federal Acquisition Regulation (48 CFR chapter 1) and the Defense 
Acquisition Regulations System (48 CFR chapter 2). It is also noted 
that Chapter 13 of the USMCA provides that the United States will apply 
the same rules of origin to Mexican imports for government procurement 
as it does for other trade. The United States has the same obligation 
to Canada under Article IV:5 of the WTO Agreement on Government 
Procurement. While the substantial transformation standard already 
applies by statute (19 U.S.C. 2518(4)(B)), CBP's proposed application 
of the part 102 rules to make these substantial transformation 
determinations would ensure the consistency of CBP determinations for 
goods imported from Mexico and Canada. The proposed regulatory change 
will specifically provide that, when making country of origin 
determinations for purposes of subpart B of part 177, the part 102 
rules will be applied by CBP to determine whether goods imported into 
the United States from Canada or Mexico previously underwent a 
substantial transformation in Canada or Mexico. The proposed regulatory 
change would not affect the origin determinations other agencies make 
related to procurement.

III. Discussion of Proposed Amendments

    Pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 4535(a), the Secretary of the Treasury has 
the authority to prescribe such regulations as may be necessary to 
implement the USMCA. Section 103(b)(1) of the USMCA Act (19 U.S.C. 
4513(b)(1)) requires that initial regulations necessary or appropriate 
to carry out the actions required by or authorized under the USMCA Act 
or proposed in the Statement of Administrative Action approved under 19 
U.S.C. 4511(a)(2) to implement the USMCA shall, to the maximum extent 
feasible, be prescribed within one year after the date on which the 
USMCA enters into force. The Secretary also has general rulemaking 
authority, pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 1624, to make such 
regulations as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of the 
Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, related to the country of origin 
requirements for imported articles of foreign origin. The Secretary 
also has authority under 19 U.S.C. 1502 to regulate the procedures for 
issuing binding rulings, and 19 U.S.C. 2515(b)(1) requires the 
Secretary to make rulings and determinations as to

[[Page 35425]]

substantial transformation under 19 U.S.C. 2518(4)(B).
    CBP is proposing to amend the scope provision in 19 CFR part 102 to 
apply the substantial transformation standard consistently across 
country of origin determinations CBP makes for imported goods from the 
USMCA countries of Canada and Mexico for non-preferential purposes.\5\ 
Specifically, CBP proposes to amend section 102.0 to extend the scope 
of part 102 to state that the rules set forth in Sec. Sec.  102.1 
through 102.18 and 102.20 are intended to apply to CBP's country of 
origin determinations for non-preferential purposes for goods imported 
from Canada and Mexico.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \5\ See supra footnote 4.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    CBP is also proposing to amend subpart B of 19 CFR part 177 to add 
a cross-reference to clarify that, for ``country of origin'' in Sec.  
177.22(a), the determination pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 2515(b)(1) as to 
whether an article has been substantially transformed into a new and 
different article of commerce with a name, character, or use distinct 
from that of the article or articles from which it was so transformed, 
for purposes of granting waivers of certain ``Buy American'' 
restrictions, must be made using the rules set forth in Sec. Sec.  
102.1 through 102.18 and 102.20 of title 19 of the CFR for goods from 
Canada and Mexico.

IV. Statutory and Regulatory Authority

A. Executive Orders 13563 and 12866

    Executive Orders 13563 and 12866 direct agencies to assess the 
costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if 
regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize 
net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public 
health and safety effects, distributive impacts, and equity). Executive 
Order 13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and 
benefits, of reducing costs, of harmonizing rules, and of promoting 
flexibility. This rulemaking is a ``significant regulatory action,'' 
although not an economically significant regulatory action, under 
section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866. Accordingly, the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) has reviewed this regulation.
Background and Purpose of Rule
    All merchandise of foreign origin imported into the United States 
must generally be marked with its country of origin, and it is subject 
to a country of origin determination by CBP.\6\ The country of origin 
of imported goods may be used as a factor to determine preferential 
trade treatment, such as eligibility under various trade agreements and 
special duty preference legislation, like the Generalized System of 
Preferences. The country of origin of imported goods is also used to 
determine non-preferential trade treatment, such as admissibility, 
marking, and trade relief.\7\ Importers must exercise reasonable care 
in determining the country of origin of their goods and often make this 
determination on their own. However, some importers may seek advice 
from CBP to determine the country of origin for their goods for 
preferential and/or non-preferential purposes.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \6\ See 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 CFR part 134.
    \7\ See supra footnote 4.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    CBP applies two methods for determining the country of origin of 
imports for non-preferential purposes, as stated above. One method 
involves case-by-case adjudication to determine whether the goods have 
been substantially transformed in a particular country, relying 
primarily on judicial precedent and past administrative rulings. The 
other method consists of codified rules in part 102 of title 19 of the 
Code of Federal Regulations (19 CFR part 102) (referred to as the part 
102 rules), which are also used to determine whether the goods have 
been substantially transformed, but are primarily expressed through 
specific changes in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States 
(HTSUS) classification, often referred to as a ``tariff shift.'' Both 
the case-by-case and tariff shift methods implement the substantial 
transformation standard and are intended to lead to the same result.
    Prior to the USMCA, under the NAFTA, country of origin marking 
determinations were made using the NAFTA marking rules codified in 19 
CFR part 102 that specify whether a good imported from Canada or Mexico 
that is not entirely of Canadian or Mexican origin has been 
substantially transformed through processes that resulted in changes in 
the tariff classification (i.e., tariff shifts) in Canada or Mexico. To 
determine the country of origin of goods imported from Canada or Mexico 
for other non-preferential purposes (i.e., purposes other than 
marking), CBP employed case-by-case adjudication to determine whether 
such goods were substantially transformed in those NAFTA countries. 
These different non-preferential country of origin-determination 
methods required some importers to determine and declare two different 
countries of origin for the same imported good (e.g., Canada and 
China).
    The USMCA, which recently superseded the NAFTA, was generally 
silent as to how the country of origin should be determined for goods 
imported from Canada and Mexico for marking and other non-preferential 
purposes. However, CBP is concurrently publishing an IFR in this issue 
of the Federal Register that, among other things, continues to apply 
the existing part 102 rules for determining the country of origin for 
marking of goods imported from Canada or Mexico. In this proposed rule, 
CBP proposes to expand the scope of the part 102 rules to provide that 
those rules are also to be generally applicable for all other (i.e., 
other than marking) non-preferential origin determinations made by CBP 
for goods imported from the USMCA countries of Canada and Mexico. CBP's 
application of the part 102 rules would not, however, affect similar 
determinations made by other agencies, such as the Department of 
Commerce's scope determinations in antidumping or countervailing duty 
proceedings (see 19 CFR 351.225).
    With this regulatory change, all non-preferential country of origin 
determinations by CBP for goods imported from Canada or Mexico would be 
based on substantial transformation pursuant to the tariff shift rules 
required by 19 CFR part 102. This would eliminate the need for some 
importers of products from Canada or Mexico to request two different 
non-preferential determinations--one for country of origin marking and 
one for case-by-case adjudication for other non-preferential purposes--
to confirm CBP's treatment of their imports and avoid potentially 
different determinations. The rulemaking would also eliminate the need 
for some importers to comply with requirements to declare two different 
countries of origin for the same imported good (e.g., Canada and 
China). CBP is proposing these changes to simplify and standardize 
country of origin determinations by CBP for all non-preferential 
purposes for goods imported from Canada or Mexico.
Population Affected by Rule
    This rulemaking would directly affect certain importers of goods 
from Canada and Mexico and the U.S. Government (particularly CBP). In 
fiscal year (FY) 2019, 38,832 importers \8\ made 2.6 million non-NAFTA-
preference entries

[[Page 35426]]

of goods from Canada and Mexico.\9\ All of these entries were subject 
to non-preferential country of origin marking requirements, while some 
of these goods were also subject to other non-preferential country of 
origin determinations, like trade remedies, that involve case-by-case 
adjudication. Around the same time, in FY 2020 and the start of FY 
2021, CBP issued 52 rulings determining the origin of goods imported 
from Canada and Mexico for non-preferential purposes.\10\ These 
rulings, except for those involving the importation of certain textile 
and apparel products, employed case-by-case adjudication to determine 
whether such goods were substantially transformed in Canada or Mexico 
or other countries.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \8\ Based on unique importer of record (IOR) numbers of 
importers who entered goods in FY 2019. In some cases, multiple IOR 
numbers correspond to the same entity.
    \9\ These goods were not eligible for the generalized system of 
preferences.
    \10\ Based on data from October 1, 2019, to December 16, 2020.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In the future, CBP projects that around 38,832 importers would 
continue to make around 2.6 million entries of goods from Canada and 
Mexico that are subject to non-preferential trade treatment, with or 
without this rule, each year. An unknown share of these importers would 
enter goods subject to non-marking-related non-preferential treatment. 
CBP also projects that about 52 case-by-case non-preferential country 
of origin determinations would be requested and issued each year in the 
absence of this rulemaking based on the historical number of case-by-
case adjudications. This rulemaking would eliminate such case-by-case 
determination requests and the issuance of such rulings.
Costs and Revenue Impacts of Rule
    This rulemaking may introduce changes in non-preferential payments 
from importers to the U.S. Government. In addition, there may be 
minimal costs for some importers, as discussed in this section. 
Changing from case-by-case adjudications for other non-preferential 
origin purposes to part 102's tariff shift rules may impose some costs 
on importers with goods from Canada and Mexico. Importers who switch 
from using these two determination methods for non-preferential origin 
purposes to just the part 102 rules with this rulemaking may, for 
example, incur some one-time, minor costs to adjust their inventory 
tracking systems and Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) entries to 
reflect the part 102-based non-marking, non-preferential country of 
origin for their goods in those cases where origin determinations under 
the current practice have been inconsistent.\11\ In such instances, 
importers may also need to adjust their business practices to ensure 
that they properly use the part 102 rules for all non-preferential 
country of origin purposes when the goods are sourced from Canada or 
Mexico under this proposed rule. These same importers must also ensure 
that they use case-by-case adjudications for any goods sourced outside 
of Canada or Mexico that are subject to non-preferential treatment. The 
extent of these costs on importers is unknown, but likely to be 
minimal. CBP requests public comments on these costs and any other 
costs of this rule to importers. This rule would not introduce costs to 
CBP.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \11\ As an example, if an importer has an inventory tracking 
system that identifies the non-marking, non-preferential country of 
origin for its goods from Canada and Mexico based on existing case-
by-case adjudication rules, with this rule, that importer may need 
to revise the system to ensure that it identifies the goods based on 
the part 102 rules if the importer is importing goods subject to 
inconsistent origin determinations under the current practice.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In addition to costs, applying the part 102 (tariff shift) rules of 
origin rather than case-by-case adjudications to determine the origin 
for other non-preferential purposes could lead to trade policy outcomes 
different from historical and current practice. If an importer's goods 
are subject to inconsistent origin determinations under the current 
practice, this proposed rule may lead to a change in non-preferential 
payments from importers to the U.S. Government, which would result in 
an equal change in U.S. Government revenue. The number of instances 
where an importer would receive a different non-preferential country of 
origin determination under this rulemaking compared to current practice 
would likely be low, especially considering both methods apply the same 
substantial transformation standard and are intended to reach the same 
results. The specific effects of these different determinations on 
revenue are unknown. Any change in payments from importers to the U.S. 
Government as a result of this rulemaking are considered transfers 
rather than costs or benefits as they are moving money from one part of 
society to another.\12\ CBP requests public comments on the potential 
number of instances where a good would be treated differently under 
trade remedy laws and relief under the new rule compared to historical 
and current practice and any related effects on revenue.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \12\ As described in OMB Circular A-4, transfer payments occur 
when ``. . . monetary payments from one group [are made] to another 
[group] that do not affect total resources available to society.'' 
Examples of transfer payments include payments for insurance and 
fees paid to a government agency for services that an agency already 
provides.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Benefits of Rule
    Besides costs and revenue impacts, this rulemaking would introduce 
benefits to importers and the U.S. Government. Importers must exercise 
reasonable care when determining the country of origin for their goods, 
which can include researching previous case-by-case adjudications on 
substantial transformation. This rulemaking would enhance the 
consistency of country of origin marking and non-preferential country 
of origin determinations for goods imported from Canada and Mexico. All 
determinations made by CBP would be based on substantial transformation 
through application of the part 102 rules. This change would allow 
importers of goods from Canada and Mexico to comply with just one non-
preferential country of origin determination made by CBP for their 
goods rather than two.
    The overall benefit to importers of complying with just one country 
of origin determination method from CBP for their goods from Canada and 
Mexico is unknown. Some importers who require CBP ruling requests to 
determine the country of origin for non-preferential purposes would 
enjoy greater benefits from the transition to just one non-preferential 
determination method. As previously described, importers of goods from 
Canada and Mexico must currently request two country of origin rulings 
from CBP if they cannot determine the country of origin for non-
preferential purposes--one for country of origin marking and one for 
case-by-case adjudication for other non-preferential purposes. CBP 
estimates that a case-by-case determination request takes an importer 
at least 8 hours on average to request, at a time cost of $250.96 per 
request according to an importer's average hourly time value of 
$31.37.\13\ Based on

[[Page 35427]]

this time cost and the historical average of about 52 case-by-case 
adjudication requests for non-preferential country of origin 
determinations for goods imported from Canada and Mexico, CBP estimates 
that importers would save at least $13,050 in research time costs each 
year from no longer submitting case-by-case adjudication requests to 
CBP for their non-preferential country of origin requests for goods 
from Canada and Mexico. These requests may impose an unknown amount of 
additional time and resource costs on importers from an importer's 
gathering of information for the process and drafting the request, 
which could be avoided with this rulemaking.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \13\ CBP bases this $31.37 loaded wage rate on the Bureau of 
Labor Statistics' (BLS) 2020 median hourly wage rate for Cargo and 
Freight Agents ($21.04), which CBP assumes best represents the wage 
for importers, multiplied by the ratio of BLS' average 2020 total 
compensation to wages and salaries for Office and Administrative 
Support occupations (1.4912), the assumed occupational group for 
importers, to account for non-salary employee benefits. Source of 
median wage rate: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational 
Employment Statistics, ``May 2020 National Occupational Employment 
and Wage Estimates United States- Median Hourly Wage by Occupation 
Code- Occupation Code 43-5011.'' Updated March 31, 2020. Available 
at https://www.bls.gov/oes/2020/may/oes_nat.htm. Accessed June 1, 
2021. The total compensation to wages and salaries ratio is equal to 
the calculated average of the 2020 quarterly estimates (shown under 
Mar., June, Sep., Dec.) of the total compensation cost per hour 
worked for Office and Administrative Support occupations ($28.8875) 
divided by the calculated average of the 2020 quarterly estimates 
(shown under Mar., June, Sep., Dec.) of wages and salaries cost per 
hour worked for the same occupation category ($19.3725). Source of 
total compensation to wages and salaries ratio data: U.S. Bureau of 
Labor Statistics. Employer Costs for Employee Compensation. Employer 
Costs for Employee Compensation Historical Listing March 2004-
December 2020, ``Table 3. Civilian workers, by occupational group: 
employer costs per hours worked for employee compensation and costs 
as a percentage of total compensation, 2004-2020.'' March 2021. 
Available at https://www.bls.gov/web/ecec/ececqrtn.pdf. Accessed 
June 1, 2021.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Furthermore, CBP's country of origin determinations sometimes 
result in an imported good being determined to be a product of Canada 
or Mexico for some customs purposes and a good of a third country for 
other purposes. This rulemaking would eliminate these different 
determinations, which would standardize country of origin 
determinations for non-preferential purposes for goods imported from 
the USMCA countries of Canada and Mexico. CBP's application of the part 
102 rules would not, however, affect similar determinations made by 
other agencies, such as the Department of Commerce's scope 
determinations in antidumping or countervailing duty proceedings (see 
19 CFR 351.225). This standardized approach would provide additional 
benefits to importers, but the extent of these benefits is unknown. CBP 
requests public comments on the benefits of this change to importers. 
Although this rulemaking would eliminate the need for some importers to 
request case-by-case country of origin determinations for non-
preferential purposes, it may require such importers to now request 
classification determinations for their goods imported from Canada and 
Mexico. The extent of these new classification requests is unknown. To 
the extent that importers would need to request additional 
classification determinations in place of case-by-case adjudications, 
the benefits of this rulemaking to importers would be lower. CBP 
requests public comments on any other benefits of this rulemaking to 
importers.
    As previously stated, CBP issued 52 non-preferential determinations 
adjudicated on a case-by-case basis for goods imported from Canada and 
Mexico from October 2019 to December 2020. This rulemaking would 
eliminate the need for CBP to make such case-by-case determinations for 
similar goods imported from Canada and Mexico in the future. The 
current method for CBP to determine country of origin on a case-by-case 
basis for non-preferential purposes is generally more time and 
resource-intensive than the tariff-shift method. For CBP, country of 
origin determinations for non-preferential purposes based on case-by-
case adjudications are highly individual, fact-intensive exercises. 
This rulemaking would largely make it easier for CBP to administer 
rules of origin for non-preferential country of origin determinations 
for goods imported from Canada and Mexico by employing the codified 
part 102 rules for both country of origin marking and other non-
preferential purposes. By eliminating the need for importers to request 
non-preferential case-by-case determinations of their goods from Canada 
and Mexico, CBP would save an average of 5 hours to 40 hours currently 
dedicated to each case-by-case adjudication. This would translate to a 
time cost saving of between $494.90 and $3,959.20 based on a CBP 
attorney's average hourly time value of $98.98.\14\ CBP estimates that 
with this proposed rule, CBP would no longer have to make 52 case-by-
case rulings determining the origin of goods imported from Canada or 
Mexico for non-preferential purposes according to historical data. 
Considering these forgone determinations and the average time cost per 
determination, CBP would save approximately $25,735 to $205,878 per 
year from this rulemaking. These benefits would represent time cost 
savings to CBP rather than budgetary savings, meaning that CBP could 
use the savings to perform other agency missions, such as facilitating 
trade. As previously stated, this rulemaking may increase requests for 
classifications of goods imported from Canada and Mexico, though the 
extent of these requests is unknown. To the extent that CBP would need 
to conduct additional classifications in place of case-by-case 
adjudications, the benefits of this rulemaking to CBP would be lower.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \14\ CBP bases this wage on the FY 2019 salary, benefits, and 
non-salary costs (i.e., fully loaded wage) of the national average 
of CBP attorney positions.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Net Impact of Rule
    In summary, this rulemaking would introduce costs, revenue changes, 
and benefits to importers and the U.S. Government. Some importers, for 
example, whose goods are subject to inconsistent origin determinations 
under the current practice, may incur minor costs to adjust their 
inventory tracking systems, ACE entries, and business practices to 
reflect the new country of origin determination for other non-
preferential purposes, as described above. Transitioning to the 
proposed tariff shift system could also lead to an increase or decrease 
in non-preferential payments from importers, which would lead to an 
equal increase or decrease in revenue to the U.S. Government. The exact 
amounts of these costs and revenue changes are unknown, but they should 
be small considering the tariff shift methodology implements the same 
substantial transformation standard as the existing case-by-case 
method. Additionally, the rule would implement a simpler, standardized 
administration system for country of origin determinations made by CBP 
for all non-preferential purposes for goods imported from Canada and 
Mexico that would save importers and the U.S. Government time and 
resources. Importers could save at least an estimated $13,050 in time 
costs annually from this rulemaking, while the U.S. Government could 
save between $25,735 and $205,878 in time costs each year. Overall, CBP 
believes this rulemaking's benefits would outweigh the costs.

B. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA; 5 U.S.C. 601 et. seq.), as 
amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement and Fairness Act 
of 1996, requires agencies to assess the impact of regulations on small 
entities. A small entity may be a small business (defined as any 
independently owned and operated business not dominant in its field 
that qualifies as a small business per the Small Business Act); a small 
not-for-profit organization; or a small governmental jurisdiction 
(locality with fewer than 50,000 people).
    This rulemaking proposes to expand the scope of the 19 CFR part 102 
rules to provide that those rules are to be generally applicable to all 
non-preferential country of origin determinations made by CBP for goods 
imported from the USMCA countries of Canada and Mexico. With this 
change,

[[Page 35428]]

country of origin marking and all other non-preferential country of 
origin determinations made by CBP for goods imported from Canada or 
Mexico would be based on substantial transformations occurring with 
tariff shifts as defined under part 102. CBP's application of the part 
102 rules would not, however, affect similar determinations made by 
other agencies, such as the Department of Commerce's scope 
determinations in antidumping or countervailing duty proceedings (see 
19 CFR 351.225).
    In FY 2019, 38,832 importers \15\ made 2.6 million non-NAFTA-
preference entries of goods from Canada and Mexico, valued at $155 
billion.\16\ All of these entries were subject to non-preferential 
country of origin marking requirements, while some were also subject to 
other non-preferential country of origin determinations, like trade 
remedies, that involve case-by-case adjudication. CBP does not have 
precise data on the number of importers who entered goods from Canada 
and Mexico that were subject to country of origin requirements for 
marking and another non-preferential purpose that would be affected by 
this rulemaking. Based on available FY 2019 data on goods from Canada 
and Mexico subject to part 102 rules for marking and that involve case-
by-case adjudication for the non-preferential purposes of Section 201 
and Section 232 duties and quotas, as well as the 38,832 importers who 
entered non-NAFTA preference goods from Canada and Mexico in FY 2019, 
CBP estimates that this rulemaking could affect between approximately 
10,000 and 38,832 unique importers entering goods from the USMCA 
countries of Canada and Mexico each year. These importers would range 
from individual buyers (households or businesses) to large businesses 
across many different industries. Some industries and businesses may be 
more affected than others, depending on the ultimate country of origin 
determination and the classification of the merchandise being imported. 
The exact number of small importers affected by this rulemaking is 
unknown. However, according to a separate CBP analysis, the vast 
majority of importers are classified as small businesses. Because this 
rulemaking would directly affect importers and the vast majority of 
importers are small businesses, the rule could affect a substantial 
number of small entities.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \15\ Based on unique importer of record numbers of importers who 
entered goods in FY 2019. In some cases, multiple IOR numbers 
correspond to the same entity.
    \16\ These goods were not eligible for the Generalized System of 
Preferences.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act does not specify thresholds for 
economic significance but instead gives agencies flexibility to 
determine the appropriate threshold for a particular rule. Changing 
from case-by-case adjudications for other non-preferential origin 
purposes to part 102's tariff shift rules may impose some costs on 
importers with goods from Canada and Mexico. Importers who switch from 
using these two determination methods for non-preferential origin 
purposes to just the part 102 rules with this rulemaking may incur some 
one-time, minor costs to adjust their inventory tracking systems and 
Automated Commercial Environment entries to reflect the part 102-based 
non-marking-related, non-preferential country of origin for their 
goods. As an example, if an importer has an inventory tracking system 
that identifies the non-marking, non-preferential country of origin for 
its goods from Canada and Mexico based on existing case-by-case 
adjudication rules, with this rulemaking, that importer may need to 
revise the system to ensure that it identifies the goods based on the 
part 102 rules if the importer is importing goods subject to 
inconsistent origin determinations under the current practice. These 
determinations should match the country of origin determinations that 
importers must already make for non-preferential marking purposes. 
According to representatives of the Commercial Operations Advisory 
Committee, these costs will be approximately $2,000-$3,000 per company.
    Some importers who source the same goods from Canada or Mexico and 
another country may also need to adjust their business practices to 
ensure that they properly use the part 102 rules for customs non-
preferential country of origin purposes when the good is sourced from 
Canada or Mexico once this rulemaking is in effect and use case-by-case 
adjudications for any goods sourced outside of Canada or Mexico that 
are subject to non-preferential treatment. According to representatives 
of the Commercial Operations Advisory Committee, these costs are 
minimal. For mid to large companies, these costs would total at most 
$2,000 to $3,000 (note that this is in addition to a similar estimate 
above). Smaller companies would have smaller costs.
    CBP does not believe that these costs, a maximum of $4,000-$6,000, 
would have a significant economic impact on importers, including those 
considered small under the RFA. The annual value of importations 
average $4 million per importer, so these one-time costs make up less 
than one percent of the value of their importations. In addition, trade 
members have expressed that the non-monetized benefits of operating 
under a single set of rules well outweigh the minimal costs to comply 
with this rulemaking. Therefore, CBP certifies that this rulemaking, if 
finalized, will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial 
number of small entities. CBP welcomes comments on this conclusion.

C. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507(d)) requires 
that CBP consider the impact of paperwork and other information 
collection burdens imposed on the public. CBP has determined that there 
is no collection of information that requires a control number assigned 
by the Office of Management and Budget.

Signing Authority

    This rulemaking is being issued in accordance with 19 CFR 
0.1(a)(1), pertaining to the authority of the Secretary of the Treasury 
(or that of his or her delegate) to approve regulations related to 
certain customs revenue functions.

List of Subjects

19 CFR Part 102

    Canada, Customs duties and inspections, Imports, Mexico, Reporting 
and recordkeeping requirements, Trade agreements.

19 CFR Part 177

    Administrative practice and procedure, Customs duties and 
inspection, Government procurement, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

Proposed Amendments to the Regulations

    For the reasons given above, it is proposed to amend parts 102 and 
177 as set forth below:

PART 102--RULES OF ORIGIN

0
1. The general authority citation for part 102 is revised to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  19 U.S.C. 66, 1202 (General Note 3(i), Harmonized 
Tariff Schedule of the United States), 1624, 3592, 4513.

0
2. Amend Sec.  102.0 by revising the second sentence and adding four 
sentences after the second sentence to read as follows:


Sec.  102.0   Scope.

    * * * For goods imported into the United States from Canada or 
Mexico and entered for consumption, or

[[Page 35429]]

withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, before [EFFECTIVE DATE OF 
FINAL RULE], these specific purposes are: country of origin marking; 
determining the rate of duty and staging category applicable to 
originating textile and apparel products as set out in Section 2 
(Tariff Elimination) of Annex 300-B (Textile and Apparel Goods) under 
NAFTA; and determining the rate of duty and staging category applicable 
to an originating good as set out in Annex 302.2 (Tariff Elimination) 
under NAFTA. CBP will determine the country of origin for all non-
preferential purposes for goods imported into the United States from 
Canada or Mexico and entered for consumption, or withdrawn from 
warehouse for consumption, on or after [EFFECTIVE DATE OF FINAL RULE], 
using the rules set forth in Sec. Sec.  102.1 through 102.18 and 
102.20. The rules in this part regarding goods wholly obtained or 
produced in a country are intended to apply consistently for all such 
purposes. The rules in this part which determine when a good becomes a 
new and different article or a new or different article of commerce as 
a result of manufacturing processes in a given country are also 
intended to apply consistently for all purposes where this requirement 
exists for ``country of origin'' or ``product of'' determinations made 
by CBP for goods imported from Canada or Mexico. The rules in this part 
do not affect similar determinations made by other agencies, such as 
the Department of Commerce's scope determinations in antidumping or 
countervailing duty proceedings (see 19 CFR 351.225). * * *

PART 177--ADMINISTRATIVE RULINGS

0
3. The general authority citation for part 177 is revised to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  5 U.S.C. 301; 19 U.S.C. 66, 1202 (General Note 3(i), 
Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States), 1502, 1624, 1625, 
2515.

0
4. Amend Sec.  177.22 by adding a sentence to the end of paragraph (a) 
to read as follows:


Sec.  177.22   Definitions.

    (a) * * * (For goods imported into the United States after 
processing in Canada or Mexico and entered for consumption, or 
withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, on or after [EFFECTIVE DATE 
OF FINAL RULE], substantial transformation will be determined using the 
rules set forth in Sec. Sec.  102.1 through 102.18 and 102.20.)
* * * * *
    Troy A. Miller, the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the 
Commissioner, having reviewed and approved this document, is delegating 
the authority to electronically sign this document to Robert F. Altneu, 
who is the Director of the Regulations and Disclosure Law Division for 
CBP, for purposes of publication in the Federal Register.

Robert F. Altneu,
Director, Regulations & Disclosure Law Division, Regulations & Rulings, 
Office of Trade, U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

    Approved:
Timothy E. Skud,
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury.
[FR Doc. 2021-14265 Filed 7-1-21; 11:15 am]
BILLING CODE 9111-14-P