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HQ 081489

March 27, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 081489 SM


TARIFF NO.: 3920.42.5000; 3921.12.1100; 3921.12.1910; 3921.90.1100; 3921.90.1500; 5903.10.2090

Christopher A. Dunn, Esq.
Wilkie, Farr & Gallagher
Three Lafayette Center
1155 21st Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036-3302

RE: Tariff classification of certain imitation leather products

Dear Mr. Dunn:

Your letter of December 17, 1987, on behalf of Productos Quimicos Nacionales Ltda., requests a tariff classification ruling for six samples of combination plastic/textile mater- ials.


The merchandise in question is used most commonly in automobile upholstery; other applications include luggage and handbags. You state that it is a plastic vinyl film made of PVC resins, pigments, and plasticizers. The surface exposed in use is a hardened top coat of plastic, often embossed, and either nonexpanded or expanded, i.e., consisting of plastic mixed with chemicals that cause it to expand when heated. The underside is a textile mesh of polyester, cotton, or a blend, designed to support the spongy inner layer of plastic. The plastic represents about 80 percent of the weight and cost of the products.

Six slightly different types are presented for classi- fication:

Sample 1 expanded vinyl with polyester backing

Sample 2 expanded vinyl with cotton backing

Sample 3 nonexpanded vinyl with polyester backing

Sample 4 nonexpanded vinyl with nonwoven polyester backing

Sample 5 expanded vinyl with a cotton backing sand- wiched within the vinyl

Sample 6 nonexpanded vinyl without textile

Although you state that the textile fabric in Samples 1, 2, and 3 is woven, it is in fact knit.


How are the six imitation leather materials classified?


Classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides that classification is determined first according to the terms of the headings of the tariff and any relative section or chapter notes and then, if necessary, in accordance with the remaining GRI's.

Heading 5903, HTSUSA, provides for textile fabrics impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with plastics. Note 2 of Chapter 59, HTSUSA, provides that heading 5903 includes such fabrics whatever the weight per square meter and whatever the nature of the plastic material, compact or cellular, with only certain specified exclusions. Among the latter are plates, sheets, or strip of cellular plastics, combined with textile fabric, where the textile fabric is present merely for reinforcing purposes. These excluded materials generally fall in Chapter 39, HTSUSA.

Sample 1 appears to have two layers of plastic over the textile base; both seem to be expanded PVC. Sample 2 seems to have only a very thin skin film on the surface of the expanded plastic. The textile appears to serve only to support the expanded plastic. Thus these two samples fall under heading 3921, HTSUSA, a provision for other plates, sheets, film, foil, and strip, of plastics.

Sample 3, however, incorporates a compact plastic and does not fall among any of the exclusions from heading 5903, HTSUSA.

Sample 4 consists of a nonwoven textile fabric that appears to be laminated to a sheet of plastic, although no manufacturing data are furnished. Nonwovens, whether or not impregnated, coated, covered, or laminated, are provided for under heading 5603, HTSUSA. However, the Explanatory Notes, the official interpretation of the HTSUSA at the international level, indicate that nonwovens covered on one or both sur- faces, by any process, with textile fabric or sheets of any other material, are classified under this heading only if they derive their essential character from the nonwoven.

Since, as far as we can determine, the nonwoven fabric of Sample 4 is covered on one surface by a sheet of plastic, we must consider whether the essential character of the prod- uct is given by the nonwoven. It does not appear that it is. The embossed and colored plastic is the portion that makes the artificial leather suitable and desirable for its intended uses. This sample, therefore, is also classifiable under heading 3921, HTSUSA, rather than as a nonwoven.

Sample 5 consists of a woven cotton fabric completely encased in cellular PVC plastic with one side embossed to simulate a woven material. Textile fabrics completely embedded in plastics or visibly coated or covered on both sides are also excluded from heading 5903, HTSUSA, by Note 2 of Chapter 59. Thus this product also falls under heading 3921, HTSUSA.

Sample 6 is a sheet of flexible, noncellular vinyl chloride with no reinforcement, lamination, or support. It falls under heading 3920, HTSUSA.


Classification of Samples 1 and 2 under the subheadings of heading 3921, HTSUSA, will depend on the exact fiber content and relative weights of plastic and textile. From observation and the data supplied, Sample 1 appears to fall under subheading 3921.12.1100, HTSUSA, a provision for other sheets of cellular plastics, of polymers of vinyl chloride, combined with textile materials, with man-made fibers predomi- nating by weight over any other textile fibers, over 70 per- cent by weight of plastics.

Sample 2 appears to fall under subheading 3921.12.1910, HTSUSA, a similar provision for products in which vegetable fibers predominate by weight over any other textile fiber.

Since Sample 3 appears to be over 70 percent by weight of plastics, it is classified under subheading 5903.10.2090, HTSUSA, a provision for other fabrics impregnated, coated, covered, or laminated with plastics of polyvinyl chloride.

Classification of Sample 4 also depends on the exact weight and on the composition of the textile portion. Judg- ing by the apparent weight of under 1.492kg/m2, it is classi- fiable under either subheading 3921.90.1100, HTSUSA, or sub- heading 3921.90.1500, HTSUSA. The first is a provision for other sheets of noncellular plastic, combined with textiles, in which man-made fibers predominate over any other textile fiber and over 70 percent of the weight is given by the plastics. The second is a similar provision for products not over 70 percent by weight of plastics.

Sample 5 also falls under heading 3921.12.1910, HTSUSA.

Sample 6 falls under subheading 3920.42.5000, HTSUSA, a provision for other noncellular plastic sheets, not combined with other materials, of polymers of vinyl chloride, flexible, and not made in imitation of patent leather.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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