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HQ 084977

August 16, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 084977 JLJ


TARIFF NO.: 6307.90.9050, 6213.20.2000

Ms. Maggie Tang
L. Kee & Company, Inc.
543 Forbes Boulevard
South San Francisco, California 94080-2019

RE: Tariff classification of a fabric-covered box and of cotton handkerchiefs

Dear Ms. Tang:

You inquired about the tariff classification of a Handkerchief/Jewelry Box imported from the People's Republic of China under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). You submitted a sample along with your inquiry.


The merchandise at issue is a square shaped cardboard frame box completely covered and lined with a white textile fabric, presumably cotton, and two cotton handkerchiefs. The exterior top surface of the box is padded and is embroidered with a floral pattern. Three of the four sides of the box have small embroidered patterns. The box is approximately 13 centimeters long, 6 centimeters high and 9 centimeters wide. The lid is permanently hinged to the body of the box by a textile strip. The box contains a fitted tray, which has two compartments for jewelry which are designed to rest on the bottom of the box.

Packed into the box and imported with it are two cotton handkerchiefs. They are both hemmed. Both are embroidered.


How are the cotton handkerchiefs and the textile-covered box classified under the HTSUSA?


We do not consider the handkerchiefs and the textile-covered box to constitute goods put up in sets for retail sale under General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 3(b), HTSUSA. The Explana- tory Notes for GRI 3(b), HTSUSA, state that such sets consist of products put up together to meet a particular need or to carry out a specific activity. The hankerchiefs and the box do neither; therefore, they are not a set.

The first issue confronting us is the classification of the textile-covered box. The box will be classified according to the material which imparts the essential character of the box. The question is, does the textile covering impart the essential character of the box, or does the cardboard frame?

In applying the HTSUSA, the Customs Service must follow the terms of the statute. Classification of goods 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, and, provided such headings or notes do not otherwise require, according to [the remaining GRI's taken in order]." In other words, classification is governed first by the terms of the headings of the tariff and relative section or chapter notes.

GRI 2(b), HTSUSA, provides in part that "The classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be according to the principles of Rule 3."

GRI 3, HTSUSA, reads in pertinent part as follows:

3. When, by application of Rule 2(b) or for any other reason, goods are prima facie classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows:

(a) The heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to the headings providing a more general description. However, when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods or to part only of the items in a set put up for retail sale, those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description of the goods.

(b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

(c) 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 which equally merit consideration.

The Explanatory Notes for GRI 3(b) state in pertinent part as follows:

(VIII) The factor which determines essential character will vary as between different kinds of goods. It may, for example, be determined by the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

In this case, what is being marketed is much more than a cardboard box. There are elements of beauty, texture and good taste which provide much of the appeal of the textile-covered box. Although the cardboard frame provides structural integrity, it cannot compare with the beauty and the value of the textile covering. It is apparent that the aesthetic appeal and the marketability of the box are dependent upon the textile covering.

In view of the foregoing, it is our opinion that the essential character of the textile-covered box is imparted by the textile covering. Following GRI 3(b), HTSUSA, the textile- covered box is classifiable under the provision for other made up textile articles: other: other: other, in subheading 6307.90.9050, HTSUSA, dutiable at the rate of 7 percent ad valorem.

The final question concerns the classification of the two cotton handkerchiefs. They are classifiable under the eo nomine provision for handkerchiefs: of cotton: other, in subheading 6213.20.2000, HTSUSA, dutiable at the rate of 7.5 percent ad valorem. Textile category 330 applies to handkerchiefs classified in this subheading.


The textile-covered box is classified in subheading 6307.90.9050, HTSUSA. The handkerchiefs are classified in subheading 6213.20.2000, HTSUSA.


John Durant, Director

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