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HQ 084670

September 22, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:CV:G: 084670 JLV


TARIFF NO.: 7304.59.8000; 8708.29.0050

Mr. Nicholas B. Winiewicz
Benteler Industries, Inc.
320 Hall Street S.W.
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49507

RE: Seamless tubes of alloy steel in cut lengths for individual automotive door impact beams

Dear Mr. Winiewicz:

In a letter of May 24, 1989, you request a ruling on the classification of cut lengths of tubing which are to be used, after additional processing, as impact beams for side collision protection in automobiles. This merchandise, in material lengths, was the subject of a ruling under the former tariff schedules (letter dated November 12, 1987, file 080953). This decision is the subject of a complaint filed with the Court of International Trade (Case No. 88-07-00540). You now ask for a ruling on cut lengths of this tubing.


The merchandise is seamless mechanical tubing of alloy steel having essentially the same chemistry and dimensions (wall thickness and outside diameter) as the mechanical tubing described in the ruling letter of September 12, 1987 (file 080953). These facts are not in dispute and are incorporated by reference into the statement of facts in this case.

You propose to cut the tubing to specific lengths, either with a straight cut or a contour cut, in Germany or Canada prior to importation into the United States. After importation, the cut lengths must be further processed, in some cases, by heating and forming the ends, and in all other cases by attaching brackets or similar devices (welding or similar processing) to complete the component part known as a "door impact beam."


Is the tubing, if cut to specific lengths with a straight cut or with a contour cut, classifiable as a part of a motor vehicle in heading 8708, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), or does it remain tubing in heading 7304, HTSUSA?


Mechanical tubing, of the type in issue, is described in heading 7304, which provides for seamless tubes and pipes of iron or steel. There are no relevant dimensional limitations which would preclude the cut lengths of mechanical tubing from falling within this description. The competing provision is heading 8708, which provides for parts and accessories of the motor vehicles of headings 8701 to 8705. The cut lengths meet the mechanical requirements for door impact beams established by federal safety standards.

General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 1 requires that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes and, provided such headings or notes do not otherwise require, according to the rules that follow. Section XV note 1(g) excludes "[a]ssembled railway or tramway track * * * or other articles of Section XVII (vehicles, ships and boats, aircraft)" from classification in the headings contained in the chapters of section XV. Section XVII note 2 specifically excludes certain articles from classification as "parts" or "accessories" as those terms are used in the headings of the chapters in section XVII. Tubes and pipes are not specifically excluded by note 2.

The Explanatory Notes (EN), the official interpretation of the HTSUSA at the international level, provides guidance as to the nature of the merchandise described in the headings and as to the scope of the section and chapter notes. The applicable EN, in this case, are the EN to headings 7304 and 8708. The EN to 7304 indicate that the heading includes many different categories of tubes or pipes. These tubes or pipes may be suitable for use in boilers, gas lines, the manufacture of automobile parts, scaffolding, or other mechanical uses. In some cases, the tubes or pipes are produced specifically for the named applications and, after further fabrication or processing, become identifiable components of a machine,
structure, or other article. We note, therefore, that the EN also indicate that the heading [7304] excludes tubes and pipes made up into specific identifiable articles, such as exhaust manifolds for internal combustion engines, exhaust pipes for motor vehicles, and saddle pillars and frames for cycles.

The EN to heading 8708 list examples of body components that are included as parts and accessories: floor boards, sides, front or rear panels; doors and parts thereof; exterior luggage racks, and many other identifiable articles. The examples listed in the EN are recognizable by shape or form as specific articles.

Finally, we address the General EN to chapter 73 in which the expression "tubes and pipes" is defined for purposes of the chapter. We note that tubes and pipes may be "polished, coated, bent (including coiled tubing), threaded and coupled or not, drilled, waisted, expanded, cone shaped or fitted with flanges, collars or rings." Therefore, a tube or pipe may be cut to a finished length, then finished on one or both ends, and remain classified under the appropriate heading for tubes and pipes in chapter 73.

In this case, material lengths of mechanical tubing will be cut to smaller lengths. The actual use of the lengths, whether straight cut or contoured cut, is claimed to be the same. However, only the contoured cut lengths have a specific shape or form that gives them the character of a specific article that is identifiable as a part of a automotive door. The smaller, straight cut lengths are merely short sections of tubing that must be further formed by heating and shaping to become an identifiable part of an automotive door.

Classification of the cut sections of tubing is not affected by the country in which the cutting is performed. The straight-cut lengths are classified as seamless tubes of ally steel; the contour-cut lengths are classified as parts of motor vehicles.

Although you did not raise the question, we note that the cutting to length, if done in Canada, will not affect the country of origin of the tubing for purposes of the Voluntary Restraint Agreement (VRA) applicable to tubing classified in subheading 7304.59, HTSUSA. Cutting to length does not constitute a substantial transformation. Ruling letter of March 26, 1986 (file 077447).


The straight-cut lengths of mechanical tubing are classified as seamless tubes of circular cross section, of other alloy steel, in subheading 7304.59.8000, HTSUSA; the contour-cut lengths of mechanical tubing are classified as other parts of bodies of motor vehicles of headings 8701 to 8705, in subheading 8708.29.0050, HTSUSA.

The straight-cut lengths of mechanical tubing are classified in subheading 7304.59.8000; whether cut to these lengths in Germany or in Canada (from tubing produced in Germany), they are products of Germany subject to VRA certification requirements.


John Durant, Director

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