United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 1990 HQ Rulings > HQ 0555239 - HQ 0555516 > HQ 0555399

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

HQ 555399

December 26, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:C:V 555399 GRV


TARIFF NO.: 9802.00.80

Alan G. Lebowitz, Esq.
Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz & Silverman 12 East 49th Street
New York, New York 10017

RE: Applicability of partial duty exemption under HTSUS subhead- ing 9802.00.80 to appliqued and/or embroidered slipper vamps imported as parts of finished slippers

Dear Mr. Lebowitz:

This is in response to your letter of May 19, 1989, on behalf of R.G. Barry Corporation, requesting a ruling on the applicability of subheading 9802.00.80, Harmonized Tariff Sched- ule of the United States (HTSUS) (formerly item 807.00, Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS)), to the sub-assembly of appliques and/or embroideries on slipper vamps which will be imported from Mexico as part of finished slippers. Samples of the slipper vamps showing the various stages of an applique assembly operation were submitted for examination.


It is proposed that cut-to-shape appliques (generally of satin fabric) and laminated slipper vamps, thread, and other slipper components (bottom sole, mid-sole, etc.), all products of the U.S., will be exported to Mexico where they will be assembled into finished slippers. You specifically request that we consider the applicability of HTSUS subheading 9802.00.80 to a slipper vamp sub-assembly, which is created by sewing appliques onto the slipper vamps with an embroidery stitch.

Regarding the slipper vamps, you state that they are composed of three U.S. components: (1) a terrycloth top; (2) a polyester foam center; and (3) a terrycloth backing. In most instances, the vamps are assembled in the U.S. by laminating only two of the components--the terrycloth top and the foam center materials--with a spray adhesive, and cutting the vamps to shape in the U.S. The backing material will be separately cut-to-shape in the U.S. and exported to Mexico for assembly with the other components. In other instances, all three components are either laminated or sewn together and cut-to-shape in the U.S. In Mexico, an outline of the particular applique will be straight stitched through the various layers of the laminated vamp component to ensure the proper placement of the applique. The top surface of the vamp will then be sprayed with an adhesive to hold the applique in place. The applique will then be posi- tioned on the vamp and subsequently joined to it by an embroidery stitch which will penetrate all of the layers of the laminated vamp component. You state that this type of needlework is util- ized to prevent the ends of the applique from unraveling and to enhance the attractiveness of the vamp. Once the slipper vamp sub-assembly is completed, the other components are assembled to make the completed slippers which will be imported into the U.S.

You advised a member of my staff by telephone that some of the slipper vamps will not have appliques attached to them, but will still be subjected to the embroidery stitching operation. You ask that we also address the acceptability of this operation in our ruling. (In this regard, we presume that only those slipper vamps to which an applique will be attached will be subjected to the straight stitch outline and spray adhesive steps.)

You reference prior Customs rulings which hold that embroi- dery is not an acceptable means of assembly (Headquarters Ruling Letters 063098 (June 7, 1979) and 071031 (November 12, 1982)), but submit that the present assembly by embroidery is distinguishable from those rulings, in that here the embroidery is more than decorative and, in fact, joins two or more other components with thread. In any event, you state that these rulings are no longer valid in view of the recent decision in L'Eggs Products, Inc., v. United States, Slip Op. 89-5, 13 CIT ____, 704 F.Supp. 1127 (1989). Thus, you argue that merely embroidering the vamp constitutes an acceptable assembly.


Whether embroidering the slipper vamps either with or with- out appliques constitutes an acceptable "assembly" operation for purposes of HTSUS subheading 9802.00.80.


HTSUS subheading 9802.00.80 provides a partial duty exemp- tion for:

[a]rticles assembled abroad in whole or in part of fab- ricated components, the product of the United States, which (a) were exported in condition ready for assembly without further fabrication, (b) have not lost their physical identity in such articles by change in form, shape, or otherwise, and (c) have not been advanced in value or improved in condition abroad except by being assembled and except by operations incidental to the assembly process such as cleaning, lubricating, and painting.

All three requirements of HTSUS subheading 9802.00.80 must be satisfied before a component may receive a duty allowance. An article entered under this tariff provision is subject to duty upon the full value of the imported assembled article, less the cost or value of the U.S. components assembled therein, provided there has been compliance with the documentary requirements of 19 CFR 10.24.

The legislative purpose of HTSUS subheading 9802.00.80 is to encourage the foreign assembly of U.S.-made components. See, Data General Corporation v. United States, 4 CIT 182 (1982). For purposes of this tariff provision, the term "assembly" means the fitting or joining together of fabricated components. C.J. Tower & Sons of Buffalo, Inc. v. United States, 62 Cust.Ct. 643, C.D. 3840, 304 F.Supp. 1187 (1969). Examples of acceptable methods of assembly are delineated at 19 CFR 10.16(a), which specifically enumerates sewing as a means of assembly.

Sewing is defined in Webster's Third International Dictionary (1971) as:

...the action or method of one by hand or machine to sew, which unites, attaches, or fastens by stitches made with a flexible thread or filament.

The nature of embroidery as a form of sewing was discussed in Baylis Brothers, Inc. v. United States, 60 Cust.Ct. 336, C.D. 3383, 282 F.Supp. 791 (1968), aff'd, 56 CCPA 115, C.A.D. 964, 416 F.2d 1383 (1969), wherein the court stated that, in common mean- ing, to embroider an object means to ornament it with needlework and that the operative feature of embroidery was the ornamental characteristic of the stitching. Thus, thread used to embroider is used to ornament and not necessarily to join or fit together solid components, as required by HTSUS subheading 9802.00.80. For this reason, we have consistently held that the mere embroi- dering of fabric does not constitute an acceptable assembly of components within the meaning of this tariff provision. T.D. 56535(5), 100 Treas.Dec. 803 (1965).

In United States v. Baylis Brothers Company, 64 Cust.Ct. 256, C.D. 3987, 400 F.Supp. 940 (1970), aff'd, 59 CCPA 9, C.A.D. 1026, 451 F.2d 643 (1971), modified, per curiam, 59 CCPA 12, 474 F.2d 1026 (1973), dress fronts with a pattern stencilled on them were smocked with thread, which gathered the fabric to itself, thus, creating shirrs. Although smocking did not involve sewing the precut dress fronts onto other pieces of fabric, the court found the smocking operation was well within the common meaning of the term "assembly," since the operation merely consisted in joining two components (thread and fabric) together according to a stencilled design.

In the referenced L'Eggs decision, the open tube end por- tions of pantyhose were sewn closed with thread. In deciding that the leg blank portions of the pantyhose were entitled to the duty allowance under TSUS item 807.00, the court explained the significance of the Baylis decision in the following way:

[t]he thread in Baylis was the joining agent which joined the fabric of the dress front to itself at predetermined points. In the present case, the thread joins the tube to itself by sewing the tube ends closed. As in Baylis, the thread is a component which serves as the joining agent. Since the tube closing operation joined two components together, namely thread and fabric, it is an "assembly" as the term was applied in Baylis.

In each case, the court held that the foreign operation constituted an assembly within the meaning of TSUS item 807.00 because the thread served as a joining agent. Thus, whether thread serves as a joining agent is an important consideration in determining whether its use in a particular case qualifies as an acceptable assembly under this tariff provision.

In the present case, although the samples show that the embroidery is ornamental, in that it serves to decorate the slipper vamps, we note that the thread used in this manner also acts as a binding agent, in that it penetrates the two or three layers of the vamp and serves to keep the center of the vamp from puckering. Therefore, we agree with you that this constitutes an important distinction between the facts of this case and those in previous rulings where we held that embroidering a single layer of fabric does not qualify as an acceptable assembly operation for purposes of HTSUS subheading 9802.00.80. Accordingly, we find that the slipper vamps, either with or without appliques attached thereto by embroidery, will be eligible for the duty exemption available under HTSUS subheading 9802.00.80 because the thread used in the embroidery operation serves to join the applique to the slipper vamp and, where no applique is attached, to join the multiple layers of the vamp together at the center. Similarly, straight-stitching an outline of the applique through the layers of the vamps also constitutes an acceptable assembly. HOLDING:

On the basis of the described foreign operation and after viewing the samples submitted, the slipper vamp components of the finished slippers, either with or without appliques embroi- dered on them, are found to be "assembled" abroad, within the meaning of HTSUS subheading 9802.00.80, as the thread used in the operation serves as a joining agent. Accordingly, the U.S. components assembled into the slipper vamp sub-assembly (the vamp, applique and thread) will be eligible for the duty exemption under this tariff provision when the slippers are imported into the U.S., upon compliance with 19 CFR 10.24.


Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: