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HQ 081483

April 27 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 081483 LS 826183


TARIFF NO.: 4202.22.8050

Ms. Thea Costabile
Patrick Powers Customhouse Broker
Post Office Box 30155
JFK Airport Station
Jamaica, New York 11430

RE: Tariff classification of beaded handbag

Dear Ms. Costabile:

Your inquiry, dated November 2, 1987, concerning the tariff classification of a beaded handbag, was referred to this office for a direct reply to you. Your request was submitted on behalf of Milor Ltd.


The handbag in question is an evening bag made of a man- made fiber textile material which is imported from Macau. Beads, bugles, and spangles are sewn in a design onto the textile outer surface of one side of the handbag. The handbag has a nylon lining. Between the outer textile material and the lining is a foam material. The bag has a nylon zipper. Narrow pieces of cardboard are sewn on the upper edge of the bag, along the zipper. The bag also has a braided shoulder strap made of man-made fibers.


What is the applicable tariff classification provision for this handbag under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA)?


Classification of products under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.

Heading 4202 in Chapter 42 provides for handbags of textile materials or handbags wholly or mainly covered with such materials. Subheading 4202.22, HTSUSA, provides for "Handbags, whether or not with shoulder strap, including those without handle: With outer surface of plastic sheeting or of textile materials." Since this handbag is made of textile material, with plastic beads, bugles, and spangles sewn onto the textile surface of one side, we find that the appropriate subheading is 4202.22, HTSUSA.

Subheading 4202.22.40, HTSUSA, provides for handbags which have an outer surface of textile materials wholly or in part of braid. For the reasons discussed below we find that subheading 4202.22.40, HTSUSA, is not applicable, and that the appropriate subheading is 4202.22.80, HTSUSA.

Since the handbag is not wholly of braid, we must decide whether it is "in part of braid." General Note 7(e)(ii) provides that "in part of," when used between the description of an article and a material, means that "the goods contain a significant quantity of the named material." General Note 7(e) further provides that the de minimis rule applies to this principle. Since General Headnote 9(f) of the Tariff Schedules of the United States Annotated (TSUSA) sets forth a definition of "in part of" which is identical to that contained in the HTSUSA and also provides for application of the de minimis rule, we refer to the court decisions and administrative rulings which interpret this phrase and rule under the TSUSA.

The de minimis rule provides that an ingredient or component of an article may be ignored for classification purposes depending upon "the purpose which Congress sought to bring about by the language used and whether or not the amount used has really changed or affected the nature of the article and, of course, its salability." Varsity Watch Co. v. United States, 34 CCPA 155, C.A.D. 359 (1947). See also Headquarters Ruling Letter 073592, dated June 12, 1984.

The term "significant," as used in the definition of "in part of," has been interpreted to mean "a degree of usefulness, being meaningful or necessary, or denoting employment for a reason." C.S.D. 80-90. In that decision Customs determined that an item contains a significant quantity of braid if that quantity serves a useful purpose and/or increases the salability of the article.

A dual quantitative-functional test has emerged from several court decisions to determine whether an article is "in part of" an ingredient for tariff classification purposes. The quantitative approach provides that "in part of" refers to a substantial part in a commercial sense. E. Fougera & Co. v. United States, T.D. 41632, 49 Treas. Dec. 986 (1926). Thus, an article is "in part of" an ingredient if that ingredient is present in commercially meaningful or substantial quantities. Cavalier Shipping Co. v. United States, 67 Cust. Ct. 440, 444, C.D. 4317 (1971), aff'd, 60 CCPA 152, C.A.D. 1103 (1973). The functional approach, which is set forth in Cavalier Shipping, provides that an article is "in part of" an ingredient if quantitatively insignificant amounts of it are present in a sufficient quantity so as "to perform a part in the primary function of the article." 60 CCPA at 156. In Aceto Chemical Co. v. United States, 75 Cust. Ct. 167, C.D. 4625 (1975), aff'd, 64 CCPA 78, C.A.D. 1186 (1977), the Customs Court interpreted the phrase "a part in the primary function of the article" to mean that the ingredient in question must play a role which is the primary function of the article rather than a role which is just related to the primary function. The court stated its view that a quantitatively minute amount of an ingredient should control classification only in the most limited circumstances.

In Bantam Travelware v. United States, Slip Op. 87-131 (Ct. Int'l Trade, decided December 3, 1987), Appeal No. 88-1217 pending, the court relied on the approach in Genender Wholesale v. United States, 1 CIT 278 (1981), aff'd, 69 CCPA 146 (1982), in determining whether luggage with braided material in the handles and straps, not observable to the naked eye, contained a significant quantity of braid so as to be considered "in part of" braid. The factors considered by the court were the commercial utility of the quantity of braided material in the subject merchandise, its effect on salability, consumer preference, and the relevant trade's recognition of the use of braid in the fabrication of luggage. The court found that there was insufficient evidence to establish that the use of braid produced any meaningful advantage with respect to the actual performance or appearance of the product. Further, there was no proof that the use of braided materials added to the salability of the luggage.

Applying these interpretations of the phrase "in part of" to the instant handbag with a braided shoulder strap, we find that the handbag does not contain a significant quantity of braided material. We fail to find a commercial utility which is attributable to the braided material. It appears that the utility of the handbag with the strap would be the same whether
or not the material of the strap is of a braided construction. There is no indication that the use of braid adds to the salability of the handbag. As to the quantitative approach, we find that the braided material should not control classification because it is not present in a commercially meaningful quantity. The braided material of the strap makes up a small percentage of the handbag's overall material. Applying the functional test set forth in Aceto Chemical Co., we find that the braided construction of the strap does not perform the primary function of the handbag, i.e., carrying articles, but only assists in that primary function. Further, with respect to the de minimis rule, it cannot be said that the amount of braid is significant enough to really change or affect the nature of the article.


For the foregoing reasons, the braided construction of the handbag's strap is not present in a significant quantity so as to cause the handbag to be "in part of braid." Therefore, the handbag is not classifiable in subheading 4202.22.40, HTSUSA. The applicable provision under the HTSUSA is subheading 4202.22.80, which provides for "handbags, whether or not with shoulder strap, including those without handle, with outer surface of textile materials: other: other: other," dutiable at the column 1 rate of 20 percent ad valorem. The applicable textile category is 670.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories, you should contact your local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


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