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HQ 084937

November 29, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 084937 HP


TARIFF NO.: 5911.90.0000

Lynne W. Wendt, Esq.
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A.
Attorneys At Law
230 Peachtree Street, N.W.
Atlanta, Georgia 30303-1527

RE: Fabric for lead acid batteries

Dear Ms. Wendt:

This is in reply to your letter of May 22, 1989, to our New York office, concerning the tariff classification of textile tubing fabric for batteries, produced in Switzerland, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).


The merchandise at issue consists of woven textile tubing fabric for lead acid batteries. It is composed of 60 percent staple polyester, and 40 percent staple polypropylene. You have submitted laboratory analysis supporting your claim that the fabric is flat woven with multiple warp. After intimate blending via carding, two spun yarns are obtained: warp NE 26/2, weft NE 18/1. The single yarns measure 21/cm warp, and 18/cm weft. The fabric weighs 340 rown yarns woven into the sides to control shrinkage. The fabric is to be imported in double folded layers of approximately 200 meters each, representing approximately 10,000 tubes per length of fabric.

After importation, the fabric is thermoset into rigid channels by placing heated copper rods through the channels. The copper rods are removed and the open passages remain fixed in shape. The product is then cut to approximate size, and lead rods are placed down the center of each of the channels. The remaining space in the rigid channels are then packed with lead
powder. A series of these tubular products are then connected to form the positive plate of an industrial battery. The whole assemblage, now known as a gauntlet, is placed inside the battery, in contact with an acid solution.


Whether the instant merchandise is considered more than mere fabric for classification purposes?


Heading 5909, HTSUSA, provides for textile hosepiping and similar textile tubing. The Explanatory Notes to the HTSUSA constitute the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level. The Explanatory Note to this heading includes therein tubing of textile material used for the passage of fluids. "Textile tubing is also classified here if it is coated on the inside ..., armoured ... or fitted with non-textile accessories such as fittings ..., nozzles, etc."

The product at issue does not carry fluids, nor is it coated. In addition, this product would not normally be known as hose; generally, a single continuous flexible tube or pipe. In our view, therefore, the instant merchandise is not classifiable under heading 5909.

Heading 5911, HTSUSA, provides for textile products and articles, for technical uses. The General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs) to the HTSUSA govern the classification of goods in the tariff schedule. GRI 1 states, in pertinent part:

... classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes ....

Goods which cannot be classified in accordance with GRI 1 are to be classified in accordance with subsequent GRIs, taken in order.

Note 7 to Chapter 59, HTSUSA, provides, in pertinent part:

Heading 5911 applies to the following goods, which do not fall in any other heading of section XI:

(a) Textile products in the piece, cut to length or simply cut to rectangular (including square) shape (other than those having the character of the products of headings 5908 to 5910), the following only:

(iv) Flat woven textile fabric with multiple warp or weft, whether or not felted, impregnated or coated, of a kind used in machinery or for other technical purposes;

The term "textile products and articles for technical uses" has, in the past, been afforded a broad meaning. See, e.g., HRL 083864 of May 4, 1989 (grass catcher bags for lawn mowers); HRL 081817 of January 17, 1989 (dampening roller covers); HRL 082150 of November 30, 1988 (vacuum cleaner bags). It is our opinion, therefore, that textile fabric used to sheath the positive plates of industrial lead acid batteries is provided for by heading 5911, HTSUSA.

Subheading 5512.99.0005, HTSUSA, the appropriate subheading for this merchandise if heading 5911 had not been applicable, provides for certain woven fabrics of yarns of different colors. As we stated, the color of the fabric is a natural white with a series of brown yarns woven into the sides to control shrinkage.

A question was raised by our New York office as to whether we disregard these brown yarns for classification purposes.

Subheading Note 1(h) to Section XI, HTSUSA, defines woven fabric of yarns of different colors as:

Woven fabric (other than printed woven fabric) which:

(i) consists of yarns of different colors or yarns of different shades of the same color (other than the natural color of the constituent fibers);

(ii) consists of unbleached or bleached yarn and colored yarn; or

(iii) consists of marl or mixture yarns.

(In all cases, the yarn used in selvedges and piece ends is not taken into consideration.)

Linton's The Modern Textile and Apparel Dictionary (4th ed. 1973), at 501, defines selvages (a.k.a. selvedges) as follows:

Originated from the term "self-edge." Actual part of the cloth running in the warp direction along both edges of the cloth. Its purpose is to keep the edges of the cloth true, straight, even and parallel. [Emphasis added.]

It is our opinion that the brown yarns do not function in ways traditionally associated with selvedges. They do not fix the edges of the fabric, but have a novel technical use; specifically, the control of fabric shrinkage. To exclude them from consideration in assessing whether the fabric is of differ- ent colors would, therefore, be inappropriate.


As a result of the foregoing, the instant merchandise is classified under subheading 5911.90.0000, HTSUSA, as textile products and articles, for technical uses, specified in note 7 to this chapter, other. The applicable rate of duty is 7.5 percent ad valorem.

The designated textile and apparel category may be subdivided into parts. If so, visa and quota requirements applicable to the subject merchandise may be affected. Since part categories are the result of international bilateral agree- ments which are subject to frequent renegotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available, we suggest that you check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report On Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an issuance of the U.S. Customs Service, which is updated weekly and is available at your local Customs office.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories, you should contact your local Customs office prior to importing the merchandise to determine the current applicability of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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