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HQ 555554

May 21, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:V 555554 GRV


TARIFF NO: 9802.00.80; 5609.00.30

Ms. Peggy Hendrickx
Continental Export Trading Corporation
P.O. Box 8544
Red Bank, New Jersey 07701

RE: Applicability of partial duty exemption under HTSUS subhead- ing 9802.00.80 to tipped articles of cordage created by joining together cut-to-length braided cord of man-made fibers, and cellulose acetate, by a heat fusing operation. The returned single lengths are classifiable under HTSUS subheading 5609.00.30.Tipping operation;assembly;incidental operations.

Dear Ms. Hendrickx:

This is in response to your letter of December 26, 1989, requesting a ruling on the applicability of subheading 9802.00.80, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), to acetate-tipped cordage articles imported from Mexico for use as shopping bag handles in the U.S. A sample of the article to be imported was submitted for examination. You also inquire as to the proper tariff classification of the merchandise.


You state that braided cord, composed of polypropylene braided over a paper core, and strips of cellulose acetate, both products of the U.S., will be exported to Mexico in continuous lengths on flanged spools and 12-inch diameter rolls, respec- tively, for a tipping operation. In Mexico, the braided cord and acetate plastic strip initially will be hand-threaded through a Duclos Automatic High Speed Tipper machine used to tip shoelaces. The Duclos machine automatically meters out the braided cord and acetate strip to the appropriate lengths, and simultaneously cuts the cord to 18-inch lengths and the acetate strip to one- inch lengths from their spools/rolls and joins the acetate strip to the ends of the cord by means of heat fusing the acetate. The single lengths are then bulk packaged and imported into the U.S. where they will be attached to paper shopping bags as handles. ISSUE:

Whether the tipped, braided cordage is eligible for the partial duty exemption available under HTSUS subheading 9802.00.80 when imported into the U.S.


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 a 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 section 10.24, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 10.24).

The term "assembly," for purposes of HTSUS subheading 9802.00.80, means the fitting or joining together of fabricated components. Acceptable assembly operations are interpreted at section 10.16(a), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 10.16(a)), which provides that the assembly operation may consist of any method used to join or fit together solid components, and enumerates such operations as gluing and laminating as acceptable means of assembly. Also, assembly operations may be preceded, accompa- nied, or followed by operations of a minor nature which are incidental to the assembly process. See, 19 CFR 10.16(b).

Regarding the tipping operation which joins the two U.S. solid components--the acetate and the braided cord--by heat fusing them together, we have previously determined that plastic materials heat sealed together to make plastic shoe covers were entitled to the partial duty exemption under item 807.00, Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS) (the precursor tariff provision to HTSUS subheading 9802.00.80). Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 042951 (November 26, 1975). See also, General Instrument Corporation v. United States, C.D. 4408, 70 Cust.Ct. 64 (1973) (shrink sleeving is entitled to duty-free tariff treatment under TSUS item 807.00); T.D. 56237(1), 99 Treas.Dec. 473 (1964) (components sealed on an automatic heat sealing machine classifiable in TSUS item 807.00); and, HRL 554885 (February 23, 1990) (solvent sealing plastic connectors to vinyl tubing to make medical appliances constitutes an acceptable method of assembly for purposes of HTSUS subheading 9802.00.80). In this case, the heat fusing operation is sufficiently analogous to these other heat sealing operations as to constitute an acceptable method of assembly.

Cutting the acetate and braided cord materials to length is an operation specifically enumerated at 19 CFR 10.16(b)(6). Therefore this aspect of the tipping operation constitutes an acceptable operation incidental to the assembly process for purposes of HTSUS subheading 9802.00.80.

The returned articles are classified in HTSUS subheading 5609.00.30, which describes "[a]rticles of yarn, strip or the like of heading 5404 or 5405, twine, cordage, rope or cables, not elsewhere specified or included...[o]f man-made fibers...." This provision provides for a duty rate of 9% ad valorem.


On the basis of the information and sample submitted, as all the conditions of HTSUS subheading 9802.00.80 are satisfied, the tipped articles of cordage to be further assembled in the U.S. as shopping bag handles are eligible for the partial duty exemption under this tariff provision when returned to the U.S., provided the documentary requirements of 19 CFR 10.24 are met. The returned merchandise is classified for duty purposes under HTSUS subheading 5609.00.30, with duty at the rate of 9% ad valorem.


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