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HQ 085914

January 29, 1990

CLA-2:CO:R:C:G 085914 SER


TARIFF NO.: 3707.90.30

George R. Tuttle, Esquire
Three Embarcadero Center
Suite 1160
San Francisco, CA 94111

RE: Photoresists

Dear Mr. Tuttle:

This is in reference to your letter of September 20, 1989, requesting the tariff classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) of photoresists from Japan.


The products at issue are photoresists which consist of photosensitive plastics dissolved in an organic solvent. These resists are used in the manufacture of semiconductors. The prospective imports will be as follows:

1. OMR-83 Negative Photoresist, consisting of rubber and sensitizer dissolved in xylene (solvent).

2. OFPR-800 and TSMR-8800 Positive Photoresists, consisting of resin and sensitizer dissolved in solvent.


Are the products at issue classifiable in subheading 3707.10, HTSUSA, which provides for emulsions or subheading 3707.90.30, HTSUSA, which provides for chemical preparations.


Classification of goods under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI), taken in order. The Harmonized System is a complete product classification system, and the goal of the Harmonized System is to place all goods that are imported into the specific classifications. In this context the word "goods" is used in its broadest sense to include all
merchandise. The systematic detail is such that virtually all goods are classifiable by application of GRI 1, that is, according to the terms of the Headings and any relative Section or Chapter Notes.

Chapter 37, HTSUSA, provides for photographic or cinematographic goods. Note 2 to this chapter states that in this chapter the word "photographic" relates to a process which permits the formation of visible images directly or indirectly by the action of light or other forms of radiation on sensitive surfaces. The merchandise at issue clearly is within the coverage of this chapter. The primary consideration is which subheading most accurately describes the merchandise.

The inquirer states that the proper classification for the products at issue is within subheading 3707.10.00, HTSUSA, which provides for chemical preparations for photographic uses: sensitized emulsions. It is Customs position that photographic emulsions and the photoresistive plastic solutions at issue are clearly different products, and that the proper classification of the merchandise at issue is subheading 3707.90.30, HTSUSA, which provides for chemical preparations for photographic uses: other.

Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, 11th Edition, defines solutions as uniformly dispersed mixtures at the molecular level, of one or more substance (the solute) in one or more other substances (the solvent). The proportion of substances (solute) in a solution depends on their limits of solution. The solubility of one substance in another is the maximum amount that can be dissolved at a given temperature and pressure.

In other words, the photoresists are mixtures of three ingredients, the plastic or rubber, the sensitizer, and the solvent all in solution at a fixed ratio to each other. In an emulsion, the solute is in suspension, not in solution. The solute is usually held in suspension by the use of emulsifiers or in the case of the silver halide emulsion, by the viscosity of the gelatin.

The Explanatory Notes constitute the official interpretation of the statute at the international level. The position of Customs is further supported by the Explanatory Notes to Chapter 37, which clearly differentiate between products which are comprised of emulsions and those products which are not coated with an emulsion. The Explanatory notes state:

The photographic plates, film, paper, paperboard and textiles of Chapter 37 are those with one or more layers of any emulsion sensitive to light or other forms of radiation (e.g., infra-red, ultra-violet, X- ray, gamma-ray or other radioactivity), whether for reproduction in monochrome or colour. Certain plates are, however, not coated with an emulsion but consist wholly or essentially of photosensitive plastics which may be affixed to a support. (emphasis added).

This differentiation is further indicated by the structure of subheading 3707, HTSUSA, which allows for two a differentiation between products of emulsions and other such products. The subheading is as follows:

3707 Chemical preparations for photographic uses (other than varnishes, glues, adhesives and similar preparations); . . .

3707.10 Sensitized emulsions . . . . . . .

3707.90 Other . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3707.90.30 Chemical preparations for photographic uses . . . .

Clearly the statute provides for both -- products which contain a layer of emulsions and those which do not. The subject photoresists are photosensitive plastics dissolved in an organic solvent, similar to the type of material that the Explanatory Notes specifically says is not an emulsion.


The photoresists at issue from Japan are properly classified in subheading 3707.90.30, HTSUSA, which provides for chemical preparations for photographic uses; other chemical preparations. The rate of duty is 8.5 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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