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HQ 085285

September 19, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 085285 HP


TARIFF NO.: 6204.62.4010

Ms. Doreen Wai
Second Secretary
Hong Kong Economic & Trade Affairs
Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office
British Embassy
1233 20th Street, N.W., Suite 504
Washington, DC 20036

RE: Suspenders attached by clips to front of pants and by buttons to back of pants, where pants have elasticized waist not needing suspenders to stay up, are part of a set with the pants.

Dear Ms. Wai:

This is in reply to your letter of July 30, 1989, concerning the tariff classification of pants with detachable suspenders, produced in Hong Kong, under the Harmonized Tariff
Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). Your case number 28/89, Jordache


The merchandise at issue consists of ladies' cotton denim pants with elastic cotton woven suspenders. The pants feature a partially elasticized waistband, belt loops, two scoop pockets and one coin pocket on the front, and two patch pockets on the back.
There are cut and sewn patch trimmings on the left knee and the patch pocket. The pants possess roll up bottoms with rainbow and forest scene trimmings. The suspenders clip on to the front of the pants via metal clasps, and attach to the back by means of two buttonholes on the suspenders. You state that the color scheme of the suspenders match the patch trimmings on the pants, although the patch trimmings are considerably faded.


Whether the pants-suspenders grouping constitutes a set or a composite good under the HTSUSA?

Subheading 6204.62.4010, HTSUSA, provides for, inter alia, women's blue denim cotton trousers. Subheading 6212.90.0010, HTSUSA, provides for, inter alia, suspenders of cotton. The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) to the HTSUSA govern the classification of goods in the tariff schedule. GRI 1 states, in pertinent part:

... classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes ....

Goods which cannot be classified in accordance with GRI 1 are to be classified in accordance with subsequent GRI's, taken in order.

GRI 3 states, in pertinent part:

When by application of Rule 2(b) [goods of more than one material or substance] or for any other reason, goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows:

(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) [which requires that goods be classified, if possible, under the more specific of the competing provisions], shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

The Explanatory Notes to the HTSUSA constitute the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level. Explanatory Note (IX) to GRI 3 provides:

For the purposes of [GRI 3(b)], composite goods made up of different components shall be taken to mean not only those in which the components are attached to each other to form a practically inseparable whole but also those with separable components, provided these components are adapted to one another and are mutually complementary and that together they form a whole which would not normally be offered for sale in separate parts.

Explanatory Note (X) to GRI 3 provides, in pertinent part:

For the purposes of [GRI 3(b)], the term "goods put up in sets for retail sale" shall be taken to mean goods which:

(a) consist of at least two different articles which are, prima facie, classifiable in different headings. * * * ;

(b) consist of products or articles put up together to meet a particular need or carry out a specific activity; and
(c) are put up in a manner suitable for sale directly to users without repacking

[C]lassification [of sets and of composite goods] is made according to the component, or components taken together, which can be regarded as conferring on the set as a whole its essential character.

The factors which determine essential character of an article will vary from case to case. It may be the nature of the materials or the components, its bulk, quantity, weight, value, or the role a material plays in relation to the use of the goods. In general, essential character has been construed to mean the attribute which strongly marks or serves to distinguish what an article is; that which is indispensable to the structure or condition of an article.

Although pants and suspenders are often used together, these pants do not need suspenders to form a whole. Either the elasticized waistband on its own, or a belt inserted in the belt loops, would serve to prevent a loss of the garment embarrassing to the wearer. In addition, although the suspenders are designed to be attached to two buttons on the back of the pants, the instant item fails to possess such anchors.
Finally, a similar color scheme between the suspenders and one or two small patches on the garment is too tenuous a connection for the components to be considered mutually complementary to each other. It is our opinion, therefore, that the instant merchandise cannot be described as composite goods.

The instant components are put up together to provide a coordinated outfit of pants and suspenders in the same style. They are stated to be imported together, and we assume they are ready for sale without repacking. As the pants are the main reason for the existence of the set, and the primary motivating factor behind the set's purchase, the pants and suspenders are classifiable as a set, with the pants providing the essential character.

As a result of the foregoing, the instant merchandise is classified under subheading
6204.62.4010, HTSUSA, as women's or girls' suits, ensembles, suit -type jackets, blazers, dresses, skirts, divided skirts, trousers, bib and brace overalls , breeches and shorts
(other than swimwear), trousers, bib and brace overalls, breeches and shorts, of cotton, other, other, other, trousers and breeches, women's, blue denim. The trousers require a visa in textile category 348; the suspenders in textile category 359. The applicable rate of duty is 17.7 percent ad valorem.

The designated textile and apparel category may be subdivided into parts. If so, visa and quota requirements applicable to the subject merchandise may be affected. Since part categories are the result of international bilateral agreements which are subject to frequent renegotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available, we suggest that the importer check, close to the time of shipment , the Status Report
On Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an issuance of the U .S. Customs Service, which is updated weekly and is available at the local Customs office.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation ( the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories, the importer should contact the local Customs office prior to importing the merchandise to determine the current applicability of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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