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HQ 085990

March 15, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 085990 JBW


TARIFF NO.: 5404.10.2090

District Director of Customs
United States Customs Service
Lincoln Juarez Bridge, Building #2
P. O. Box 3130
Laredo, Texas 78044-3130

RE: Internal Advice Request 36/89 Concerning the Classification and Eligibility for Treatment under Subheading 9801.00.1035, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), of Brush Bristles

Dear Sir:

This memorandum is in response to your request for Internal Advice on the classification and eligibility for treatment under subheading 9801.00.1035, HTSUSA, of brush bristles. The request for Internal Advice was initiated in a letter dated May 22, 1989, by Daniel B. Hastings, Inc., on behalf of MFC Corporation of Laredo, Texas.


The products under consideration are brush bristles consisting of polypropylene monofilaments, istle, or horsehair that are blended, combed, and wrapped in Mexico. The percentage composition varies according to the manufacturing specifications of the brush style. However, each brush bristle under consideration will consist of at least fifty percent polypropylene by weight.

The polypropylene monofilament is manufactured in the United States and exported to Mexico where a worker places the fibers on a mixing and combing machine for processing with the other components. The polypropylene is not processed, manufactured, or otherwise changed through this process.

The importer urges classification of the brush bristles consisting of at least fifty percent polypropylene monofilament under subheading 9801.00.1035, HTSUSA.


(1) Whether the mixing and combing of brush fibers is an advancement in value or improvement in condition under subheading 9801.00.10, HTSUSA?

(2) What is the classification of brush bristles consisting of at least fifty percent polypropylene monofilament by weight?


I. Eligibility of Brush Bristles for Duty-Free Treatment under Subheading 9801.00.10

Subheading 9801.00.10, HTSUSA, provides for the free entry of articles of United States origin exported and returned without having been advanced in value or improved in condition by any process of manufacture or other means while abroad. The processing of the fibers by blending and combing results in an improvement in their condition and constitutes an advancement in value. In a ruling dated January 27, 1982 [HQ 069279], copy enclosed, we held that polypropylene filaments of United States origin exported to Mexico and blended with istle fibers after cutting to length had been advanced in value and improved in condition and were not eligible for free entry as American goods returned. Accordingly, we are of the opinion that the subject brush bristles would not be entitled to a duty exemption under subheading 9801.00.10, HTSUSA, when returned from Mexico.

II. Classification of Brush Bristles

The brush bristles consist of polypropylene filament, istle, and horsehair. These components, if imported separately, are classified under different headings of the tariff: istle, Heading 1403, HTSUSA; horsehair, Heading 0503, HTSUSA; and polypropylene monofilament, Heading 5404, HTSUSA (the polypropylene measures less than one millimeter in maximum cross sectional dimension and appears to be more than 67 decitex and, pursuant to Explanatory Note (1) to subheading 5404 and Chapter Note 2(1) to Chapter 39, are thus considered to be textile products).

GRI 3 applies when goods are classifiable under two or more headings. The Explanatory Notes, which provide the official interpretation of the HTSUSA at the international level, define composite goods to include goods made up of different components, even if the components are separable, as long as they are adapted one to the other, are mutually complementary, and together form a whole that would not normally be offered for sale in separate parts.

The brush bristles are composite goods. As imported, the components are separable, but they are adapted one to the other and are mutually complementary. The combined components are used in the industrial, maintenance, and janitorial brush industry. The percentage composition of the blend is varied according to the stiffness requirements of the consumer. Furthermore, even though the individual components may be sold separately, the utility of any individual component appears limited when compared to the overall utility of the components when blended. Thus, the components may be sold separately, but in this case, they do not appear to be of the type normally offered for sale in separate parts.

GRI 3(b) governs the classification of composite goods. GRI 3(b) requires classification of a composite good as if it consists of the component that gives it its essential character. The Explanatory Notes state that the factors determining essential character may vary as between different kinds of goods. The Notes suggest that essential character may be determined by the nature of a component or material, its bulk, quantity, weight, or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods. GRI 3(c) states that if an item cannot be classified according to essential character, then it is classified under the heading that occurs last in numerical order among the headings that merit equal consideration.

To determine classification of the blend, one must examine the weight and value of the component materials, for we believe that no individual component plays a unique or essential role in the use of goods. Moreover, determinations by bulk or quantity appear inconclusive. In each blend under consideration, the polypropylene constitutes the principal weight. In certain blends, the horsehair constitutes the principal value of the blend. Where the polypropylene imparts both the principal weight and value, one may conclude that the polypropylene imparts the essential character. However, where the polypropylene imparts only the principal weight and the horsehair imparts the principal value, then classification is determined according to GRI 3(c). In either case, the blend will be classified as polypropylene monofilament under Heading 5404.


The brush bristle blends are not eligible for duty-free treatment under subheading 9801.00.1035, HTSUSA. The brush bristle blends, consisting of at least fifty percent polypropylene monofilament, are classified under subheading 5404.10.2090, HTSUSA, as synthetic monofilament of 67 decitex or more and of which no cross-sectional dimension exceeds 1 millimeter, monofilament, other, other, and dutiable at the rate of 7.8 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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