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HQ 083934

June 13, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 083934 JLJ; 836925


TARIFF NO.: 5603.00.9040

Mr. David Serko, Esquire
Serko & Simon
One World Trade Center, Suite 3371
New York, New York 10048

RE: Tariff classification of compressed gasket material, Durlon 8500 and Durlon 8600

Dear Mr. Serko:

You requested a tariff classification ruling for compressed gasket material, Durlon 8500 and Durlon 8600, imported from Canada. You submitted a sample along with your request. You request confidentiality for the commercial information submitted along with your request.


The compressed gasket material is manufactured by the following process. Rubber sheeting or slabs (NBR Acrylonitrile -butadiene and SBR styrene-butadiene compounds) are treated with a solvent and then mixed in a rubber curing agent. Kevlar textile fibers (Aramid pulp) and other fibrous materials (Wallastokup) are blended in a dry mixer. The treated rubber, now a slurry, is poured into the dry mixer, and the whole batch is blended.

After mixing for up to an hour, the mass attains the consistency of a crumbly dough. This dough is fed into the hopper of a two roll calendar. The hot roll becomes the take-up roll. At each revolution, the rolls are separated by one- thousandth of an inch until the desired thickness of about 1/16 inch is achieved. This is like a lapping operation, not a laminating process. The sheet remains on the roll until it is cured, then it is cut off. It may be kept at the same size, 120 inches by 126 inches, or cut into smaller sized sheets. The brand name and quality is printed on one surface.

We note that Durlon 8500 is made of acrylonitrile-butadiene rubber (NB), chemical curing agents, mineral fillers and disassociated Aramid fibers in pulp form. Durlon 8600 is made of styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR), chemical curing agents, mineral fillers and disassociated Aramid fibers in pulp form. Both are produced in roll or sheet form.


What is the tariff classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) of the compressed gasket material?


You argue, citing Legal Note 9 of Chapter 40, HTSUSA, and various Explanatory Notes, that the instant compressed gasket material should be classified under the provision for plates, sheets, strip, rods and profile shapes, of vulcanized rubber other than hard rubber: of noncellular rubber: plates, sheets and strip, in subheading 4008.21.0000, HTSUSA. We disagree.

Both products are made up, to a great extent, of textile fibers. The Kevlar Aramid pulp is also referred to as "engineered short fiber" on one of the shipping bags. The Kevlar is a textile fiber. In both Durlon 8500 and Durlon 8600, the Aramid fiber outweighs, and far exceeds the value, of the rubber, as shown below:

Durlon 8500 Durlon 8600

Weight Value Weight Value

Rubber 8.30 $19.00 7.85 $11.52
Pulp 10.80 $129.66 10.19 $122.39

The weight figures provided above are in pounds, while the value is in Canadian dollars.

The products are made by combining all ingredients, then forming the sheet. The submitted sample shows clumps of light yellow fibers, not a solid area of green rubber. The Explanatory Notes for Heading 5603, HTSUSA, seem to describe the production of the instant materials when they discuss, on page 775, the "in situ" web formation process and the chemical bonding process, as follows:

I. Web formation:

(d) by various specialized technologies in which fibre production, web formation and usually bonding occur simultaneously (in situ process).

II. Bonding:

(a) Chemical bonding, in which the fibres are assembled by means of a bonding substance. This may be done by impregnation with an adhesive binder such as rubber, gum, starch, glue or plastics, in solution or emulsion, by heat treatment with plastics in powder form, by solvents, etc. Binding fibres can also be used for chemical bonding.

The rubber does not completely embed the textile fibers but acts more like a binder; the textile fibers remain visible. No allowance is made for rubber combined with textile materials in Heading 4008, HTSUSA. The textile component is not mere filler. It helps to make the product. The textile fibers predominate by weight and by value.

Inasmuch as both rubber and textile fibers form part of the instant materials, we look to General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 3, HTSUSA, which deals with goods classifiable in two or more headings. GRI 3(a) cannot be used because Heading 4008 and Heading 5603 both deal with only part of the materials contained in the composite goods, so they are to be regarded as equally specific. GRI 3(b) cannot be used because neither rubber nor textile seems to form the essential character of the instant gasket materials. GRI 3(c) says that when goods cannot be classified by reference to 3(a) or 3(b), they shall be classified under the heading which occurs last in numerical order among those equally meriting consideration.

Following GRI 3(c), we find that the instant gasket materials are classified under the provision for nonwovens, whether or not impregnated, coated, covered or laminated: other: other: other, in subheading 5603.00.9040, HTSUSA, dutiable at the general rate of 12.5 percent ad valorem. Under the United States-Canada Free Trade Agreement, goods manufactured in Canada
and classified in subheading 5603.00.9040, HTSUSA, are eligible for a duty rate of 11.2 percent ad valorem if all applicable regulations are met. See General Note 3(c)(vii), HTSUSA, for further details. Textile category 223 applies to this subheading.


Durlon 8500 and Durlon 8600 are classified in subheading 5603.00.9040, HTSUSA.


John Durant, Director

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