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HQ 085703

December 7, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 085703 JMH


TARIFF NO.: 8457.10.00, 8459.10.00

Michael A. Johnson, Esq.
Sonnenberg, Anderson, O'Donnell & Rodriguez 200 West Adams Street
Suite 2625
Chicago, Illinois 60606

RE: Machine tool

Dear Mr. Johnson:

This is in response to your August 30, 1989, letter requesting a classification ruling under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) for a machine tool from Japan.


The merchandise in question, the Yamaguchi Aluminum Wheel Drilling Machine, Model YMV-60MW-E, has been manufactured to Enshu Keigokin's (Japan) specifications. The machine is then sold to Tohlease and subsequently leased to Enkei America, a company related to Enshu Keigokin. Enkei America manufactures wheels for road vehicles, and will use the machine in a wheel manufacturing line. The machine is not for resale.

The machine is equipped with auxiliary drilling units which are specially designed to perform a valve stem drilling function, without removing the workpiece. The spindle speed on the machine is 60-6000 RPM. A NT-40 taper spindle is used. The table of the machine has been modified to accept a special wheel jig base. The modified table is bolted to the linear guides and, therefore, could be exchanged for a standard table by loosening the bolts. The vertical column has been lengthened 250 mm for the drilling function. The lengthened column does not make other functions impossible. The spindle head, saddle, base and splash guards are the standard machining center configuration.

In its condition as imported, the Yamaguchi machine does not have an automatic tool changer (ATC). The machine's present capabilities focus on drilling, but include limited milling,
boring and other machining capabilities. Despite not currently having an ATC, the machine's column is designed, cast, machined, drilled and tapped to accept an ATC. The power supply for the ATC is built into the ATC unit and then attached to the pneumatic lines already on the machine. Replacing the software card is all that remains to make the ATC operable once the ATC has been mounted and wired.

The manuals shipped with the machine identify the machine, as originally a "YMN-60MW Machining Center". The machine has been specifically modified as reflected in the manual's supplement. The manual and its supplement discuss the operation and specifications of the ATC. Additionally, the electrical diagrams and parts list detail the wiring and connectors for the ATC.


Whether the Yamaguchi machine tool is a "Machining center" within heading 8457, HTSUSA, subject to the Voluntary Restraint Agreement (VRA) with Japan; or a "Machine tool...for drilling" within heading 8459, HTSUSA, not subject to any import restrictions.


The classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1, HTSUSA, states in part that "for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes...and according to the following provisions." When reviewing the headings, the goods are to be considered in their condition at the time of importation. United States v. Citroen, 223 U.S. 407 at 415 (1911).

You acknowledge that the machine tool's original form was of a machining center. You contend that because of the modifications which have occurred, the machine tool, as imported, is a drilling machine classifiable within heading 8459, HTSUSA. We recognize that the Yamaguchi machine is fully prepared to perform drilling functions. However, this machine has features which extend its abilities beyond those of a mere drilling machine. The modifications have not substantially nor permanently altered the condition and character of the original machining center. It is the opinion of this office that the Yamaguchi Machine, Model YMV-60MW-E, as imported is a machining center.

Your proposed classification within heading 8459 competes with heading 8457, HTSUSA. These headings describe:

8457 Machining centers, unit construction machines (single station) and multistation transfer machines, for working metal...

8457.10.00 Machining centers...

8459 Machine tools (including way-type unit head machines) for drilling, boring, milling, threading or tapping by removing metal, other than lathes of heading 8458...

8459.21.00 Other drilling machines...

Chapter 84, Note 4, HTSUSA, states in relevant part:

Heading 8457 applies only to machine tools for working metal (other than lathes) which can carry out different types of machining operations either:

(a) By automatic tool change from a magazine or the like in conformity with a machining program (machining centers)...

Although the machine in question does not presently include an ATC, it is a machine tool, run by a computer program and prepared for an ATC. Two questions remain unanswered. The first question is whether this machine tool is able to perform "different types of machining operations." The second inquiry is whether this machine tool may be classified as a machining center despite not having an ATC.

Regarding the first question, you acknowledge that the machine tool is built from the basic Yamaguchi machining center model. This Yamaguchi machine tool has the spindle speed, taper speed, spindle head, saddle, base and splash guards of a standard machining center. The vertical column, table, and jig base are a slight variation from a usual machining center. However, the Customs official who examined the machine states that the taller column would not prevent the spindle head from reaching other workpieces as you claim. He also concluded that the table and jig base, although specifically designed for drilling, were removable and replaceable enabling more extensive alternative operations. Company engineers present at the inspection confirmed that this machine tool is able to perform several functions. Therefore, we find no merit in your contentions that the performance of other functions by this machine tool is
impossible or impractical. Therefore, the modified machining center remains capable of "carrying out different types of machining operations..."

The second inquiry results from the fact that this machine tool does not include an ATC. The Yamaguchi machine tool appears to meet the definition of a machining center within Chapter 84, Note 4. However, without the ATC the machine tool at most is an unfinished or incomplete machining center. Since the machine cannot be classified according to GRI 1, "the following provisions" must be utilized. The GRI's are to be utilized in sequential order. GRI 2(a) states in relevant part:

Any reference in a heading to an article shall be taken to include a reference to that article incomplete or unfinished, provided that, as entered, the incomplete or unfinished article has the essential character of the complete or finished article...

The subject machine tool, according to the above, is only an incomplete or unfinished machining center, if it has the "essential character" of a complete or finished machining center. You state that the machine was specifically designed for your drilling purpose. However, this special machine was built to standard machining center specifications. Not only has it retained the appearance of a machining center, but is has been designed and built so that it is prepared for the attachment of an ATC. It is your contention that the ATC is not required for your needs. Nevertheless, this machine tool is fully prepared for the installation of an ATC. Furthermore, the manual and supplement you presented at the Headquarters meeting, along with the manual with the machine, describe the machining center's abilities beyond mere drilling and detail the fittings for an ATC and the process of incorporating the ATC. It is the opinion of this office that this machine tool has the essential character of a machining center.

The Yamaguchi YMV-60MW-E is an unfinished machining center to be classified within subheading 8457.10.00, HTSUSA. In order to import the machining center, the appropriate certification must be supplied in accordance with the VRA with Japan.


The Yamaguchi machine tool, model YMV-60MW-E, as imported, is a machining center. The modifications which occurred have not substantially altered the nature of the machine. This machine tool is capable of performing different functions. Despite not including an ATC at the time of importation, this machine tool has the essential character of a machine tool, within the
meaning of GRI 2(a), HTSUSA. It is an incomplete or unfinished machining center properly classified within subheading 8457.10.00, HTSUSA.

The Yamaguchi machine tool must meet the requirements of the VRA with Japan to be eligible for importation.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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