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HQ 085072

May 11, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G: 085072 DPS


TARIFF NO.: 6307.90.9050

Leslie A. Glick, Esq.
Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur
1233 20th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036-2395

RE: Textile swatch books

Dear Mr. Glick

This ruling is in response to your letter of July 3, 1989, on behalf of VIP Incorporated, requesting a ruling under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), for swatch books imported from Mexico. In a telephone conversation with members of my staff in October, 1989, you indicated that you may or may not submit further information in support of your client's position on the classification of the subject swatch books. Since that time, no further information was submitted.


The sample at issue is a swatch book made of rectangular fabric pieces with serrated edges measuring 4 cm. by 7 cm. The swatches are glued to paper pages which contain printed matter and are incorporated into a book. Three swatches of each fabric organized in a row are included in the book, two of which are designed to be cut out from the book. The printed matter on each display page states the style and color of each row of the fabric swatches.


Whether the subject merchandise is classifiable in Chapter 49, HTSUSA, as printed matter?


The General Rules for the Interpretation of the Harmonized System (GRI's) govern classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule. According to GRI 1, the primary consideration in determining whether merchandise should be classified in a heading should be given to the language of the heading and any relevant chapter or section notes, and, provided such headings or notes do not otherwise require, according to the remaining GRI's, taken in order.

The inquirer claims that the subject swatch book is classifiable in either Heading 4905, HTSUSA, Heading 4901, HTSUSA, or alternatively in Heading 4911, HTSUSA. Heading 4905, HTSUSA, provides for, inter alia, charts. The Explanatory Notes to this heading, which constitute the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, state that 4905 is intended to include maps and charts representing geographic features. Since the subject merchandise does not portray any physical or political geographic features, it clearly is not the type of article intended to be classified under Heading 4905, HTSUSA.

Heading 4901, HTSUSA, provides for printed books, brochures, leaflets and similar printed matter, whether or not in single sheets. The Explanatory Notes to Heading 4901 state that it includes virtually all publications and printed reading matter, consisting essentially of textual matter, with the exception of publicity matter and products more specifically covered by other headings of the Chapter 49. Because the subject article contains no textual matter, other than labels indicating color and style, it is not the type of article intended to be classified under Heading 4901, HTSUSA.

Heading 4911, HTSUSA, provides for other printed matter. The Explanatory Notes indicate that this heading is intended to cover all printed matter of the chapter not more particularly covered by any preceding headings. Goods classified under this provision must therefore be, first of all, printed matter of the chapter. The Explanatory Notes for Chapter 49 state:

With the few exceptions referred to below, this Chapter covers all printed matter of which the essential nature and use is determined by the fact of its being printed with motifs, characters, or pictorial representations.

While the Explanatory Notes broaden the meaning of the term "printed" beyond normal types of printing processes, they still specifically state that the essential nature of printed matter is that it is printed with motifs, characters or pictorial representations. Here, the printed matter merely serves to indicate color and style of fabric, while the book provides a convenient method of displaying a broad selection of fabrics for upholstery purposes.

GRI 3(b) provides that composite goods consisting of different materials are to be classified as if they consisted of the material or component that gives them their essential character, if it can be determined. The factor that determines the essential character of an article varies amongst different types of articles. It may be the nature of the material or component, its weight, value, bulk or quantity, or its role in relation to the use of the goods.

A comparison of the textile portions of the swatch book with the non-textile materials indicates that the textile portions of the article impart the essential character of the merchandise. The cardboard binder and paperboard pages serve as an effective method of displaying and labelling the textile swatches. However, the binder and pages are of no use by themselves. The primary use of the article is to display, advertise, and sell the textiles. Without the fabric samples, the displays would have nothing to show. In applying GRI 3(b) to the subject merchandise, we recognize that the textile portions of the swatch books impart the essential character to the articles.


The subject swatch books are classifiable under subheading 6307.90.9050, HTSUSA, which provides for other made up articles, of textiles, including dress patterns, other, other, other. Articles classified under subheading 6307.90.9050, HTSUSA, when imported from designated beneficiary countries, may be entitled to duty free treatment under the Generalized System of Preferences, provided all applicable requirements are met. Otherwise, the general rate of duty applicable to merchandise classified under this provision is 7 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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