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HQ 086578

March 26, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 086578 WAW


TARIFF NO.: 6406.10.8015

Ms. G.M. Columbe
A.N. Deringer, Inc.
30 West Service Road
Champlain, N.Y. 12919-9703

RE: Footwear Upper

Dear Mr. Columbe:

This ruling is in response to your letter, dated January 26, 1990, concerning the tariff classification of footwear parts under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). A sample of the merchandise was submitted along with your request.


The sample article is described as a part of an unformed upper of footwear which consists of a combination of plastic and textile materials. The plastic and/or rubber component encircles the upper portion of a shoe and varies in height from approximately 1 inch to 3-1/2 inches. The textile portion lines the inside of the shoe and extends over the plastic component to form a narrow padded collar. The textile portion is approximately 3 inches in height. There is a textile shoe lace which loops in and out around the circumference of the plastic component and is tied in a bow at the front of the shoe. This sample article will be imported from Canada.


Whether the sample article is classifiable as a part of an unformed upper of rubber and/or plastics under subheading 6406.10.60, HTSUSA, or as a part of an unformed upper of textile materials under subheading 6406.10.80, HTSUSA?


The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) set forth the manner in which merchandise is to be classified under the HTSUSA.

GRI 1 requires that classification be determined first according to the terms of the headings of the tariff and any relative section or chapter notes and, unless otherwise required, according to the remaining GRI's, taken in order. In the instant case, we find no headings within the nomenclature whose terms would specifically include the sample merchandise. In addition, the merchandise is not covered by any Legal Notes, at either the Section or Chapter level. GRI 1 is, therefore, inconclusive, and the remaining GRI's, taken in order, are used.

Composite goods are classified by reference to GRI's 2 and 3. Under GRI 2, any reference to a material or an article made of a material includes goods made wholly or in part of that material. GRI 2(b), HTSUSA, provides in pertinent part that "[t]he classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be according to the principles of GRI

GRI 3, HTSUSA, provides in pertinent part:

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

(a) The heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description. However, when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods or to part only of the items in a set put up for retail sale, those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description of the goods.

Since the textile portion and the plastic portion of the footwear part both fall under separate subheadings in the tariff schedule which describe only a portion of the materials in the entire article, the subheadings are to be regarded as equally specific under GRI 3(a). Therefore, GRI 3(a) fails in establishing classification, and GRI 3(b) becomes applicable.

GRI 3(b) states in pertinent part:

(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 constitute the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level. Explanatory Note VIII to GRI 3(b) states that:

(VIII) The factor which determines essential character will vary as between different kinds of goods. It may, for example, be determined by the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

Two subheadings are applicable for classification purposes; each referring to one of the principal components of the footwear part. The first is subheading 6406.10.60, HTSUSA, which provides for parts of footwear, which are parts of footwear uppers which are less than formed uppers; which are of rubber or plastic material. The second is subheading 6406.10.80, HTSUSA, which provides for parts of footwear, which are parts of footwear uppers which are less than formed uppers; which are of textile materials.

In the instant case, we are of the opinion that the textile component imparts the essential character to the sample footwear part. The textile interior lining and the textile topline collar of the shoe are both important components of the article. It is our position that although the lining does not constitute the external surface of the shoe, it forms an integral part of the unfinished footwear upper. The textile component, when combined with the textile shoe lace, is larger than the plastic component. In addition, the textile portion greatly enhances the marketability of the article. Thus, it is our view that the article is a composite good made up of both plastic and textile materials which should be classified as a part of an unformed upper of textile materials.


Based on the foregoing analysis, it is Customs position that the sample part of footwear is classifiable under subheading 6406.10.8015, HTSUSA, which provides for parts of footwear; Uppers and parts thereof, other than stiffeners: Other: Other: Other. . .Uppers of which less than 50 percent of the external surface area (including any leather, rubber or plastics accessories or reinforcements such as mentioned in note 4(a) to this chapter) is textile materials. The applicable rate of duty for articles included in this subheading is 9 percent ad valorem. Articles classifiable under this subheading which have originated from Canada may be entitled to preferential treatment under the United States-Canada Free Trade Agreement upon compliance with all applicable regulations.


John Durant, Director

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