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HQ 085282

October 18, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 085282 AJS


TARIFF NO: 4201.00.60; 4016.99.50

Mr. Zongyi Zhang
Applied Concepts, Inc.
700 Second Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

RE: Rubber horseshoe

Dear Mr. Zhang:

Your letter of June 28, 1989, requesting the tariff classification and duty rate for rubber horseshoes has been referred to this office for reply.


The article in question is called the "Soft Shoe". It is a horseshoe which is made of rubber instead of steel. The item eliminates the need for steel shoes in all riding activities and horse care. The literature submitted with your inquiry states that the shoe is ideal for transporting, trail riding, show, pleasure riding, work, breeding, endurance, and the comfort of horses. The shoe is claimed to be made of 100 percent pure urine resistant rubber. However, your letter states that the shoe is made of either a 50/50 or a 30/70 combination of neoprene/rubber.

The "Soft Shoe" is also different from the traditional steel horseshoe in that it extends onto the hoof of the horse and fastens around the back of the hoof somewhat similar to a shoe on a human.


Whether the article in question is classifiable within subheading 4201.00.60, HTSUSA, which provides for "[s]addlery and harness for any animal . . . , of any material: [o]ther."; or
within subheading 4016.99.50, HTSUSA, which provides for "[o]ther articles of vulcanized rubber other than hard rubber. [o]ther.


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

Horse and mule shoes are specifically provided for in subheading 7326.90.45, HTSUSA. However, heading 7326 provides for articles of iron or steel. Based on the fact that the article in question is made of rubber and not iron or steel, it cannot properly be classified within this subheading.

Subheading 4201.00.60, HTSUSA, provides for other saddlery and harness for any animal, which is made of any material. In ruling letter HQ 084070, this office stated that "[t]he terms "saddlery" and "harness" cover items comprising a seat, equipment used to attach a pack, or articles made of strap to fasten, control or direct an animal." Definition of the word "saddle", Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary (1984) at p. 1030; Definition of the term "harness", Id. at p. 1030. A horseshoe does not meet this description of "saddlery" and "harness".

The Explanatory Notes (EN) to heading 42.01 state that this heading covers equipment for all kinds of animals, of leather, composition leather, furskin, textiles or other materials. The notes also expand the definition to include "boots for horses". The article in question could possibly be considered equipment for animals of other materials, especially in light of the term "boots for horses." However, the term "boot" is defined as a protective sheath for a horse's leg. Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary (1984) at p. 190. The "soft shoe" is not a protective sheath for the horse's leg. It is a protective shoe for the horse's hoof.

The General ENs to chapter 42 state that "[t]his chapter principally covers articles of leather or composition leather; however, headings 42.01 and 42.02 also include certain articles characteristically of the leather trade but made from other material . . ." The "soft shoe" does not appear to us to be characteristic of the leather trade in this context and we do not consider it to be an article of saddlery and harness.

The submitted literature states that the "soft shoe" will be a mixture of natural and synthetic rubber. Chapter 40, Note 1, states that the expression "rubber" means both natural and synthetic rubber, whether or not vulcanized. Thus, the "soft shoe" is made of material which satisfies the description of "rubber" in chapter 40.

In almost all cases, finished products made of rubber such as the "soft shoe" are made of vulcanized rubber. The General Explanatory Notes to Chapter 40 state that "vulcanized refers in general to rubber (including synthetic rubber) which has been cross-linked with sulfur or any other vulcanizing agent . . . so that it passes from a mainly plastic state to a mainly elastic one." It is our understanding that the article in question meets this description of vulcanized rubber. Articles of vulcanized rubber are provided for in headings 40.07 to 40.16. The "soft shoe" is not provided for in headings 40.07 to 40.15. Therefore, it must be classifiable in heading 40.16 which provides for other articles of vulcanized rubber.

The article in question is not specifically provided for within heading 4016. Thus the shoe would be classifiable in either subheading 4016.99.25 as an other article of natural rubber or in subheading 4016.99.50 as an other article of rubber. The article is a mixture of natural and synthetic rubber, with neither type making up the essential character of the item. GRI 2(b) states that classification of goods consisting of mixtures and combinations of substances shall be classified according to the principles of GRI 3.

GRI 3(a) provides that when goods are prima facie classifiable under two or more headings, the heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred over a heading which provides a more general description. This statement would appear to make the "soft shoe" classifiable under the heading for natural rubber because this is more specific than the heading for other articles of rubber. However, this rule goes on to require that when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials contained in mixed goods, those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods. This is the case even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description of the goods. This is exactly the situation in this case. Each subheading refers to only part of the material which makes up the "soft shoe", and the subheading for natural rubber is a more precise description. Therefore, both subheadings are equally specific and classification cannot be accomplished by the use of GRI 3(a).

The ENs to GRI 3 require that if rule 3(a) fails then rule 3(b) is to be considered next. GRI 3(b) requires that mixtures
shall be classified as if they consisted of the material which gives them their essential character. Neither the natural nor synthetic rubber in the "soft shoe" imparts the essential character to the article. Therefore, the article cannot be classified by the terms of GRI 3(b).

If GRI 3(b) fails, then the article is to be classified in the heading which occurs last in numerical order among those which equally merit consideration. GRI 3(c). Accordingly, this rule requires the "soft shoe" to be classified in subheading 4016.99.50 instead of 4016.99.25.


The article in question is classifiable within subheading 4016.99.50, HTSUSA, which provides for other articles of vulcanized rubber. The applicable duty rate is 5.3 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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