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HQ 086583

June 6, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 086583 PR


TARIFF NO.: 4823.90.6500

Mr. Arthur Robbins
Mastercargo, Inc.
161-5 Rockaway Boulevard
Jamaica, New York 11434

RE: Classification of Unfinished Filler Pages for Photo Albums; NYRL 849228 Affirmed

Dear Mr. Robbins:

This is in reply to your inquiry of February 12, 1990, concerning New York Ruling 849228, dated February 6, 1990. In that ruling you were advised that certain finished filler pages for photo albums were classifiable under the provision for other articles of coated paperboard, in Subheading 4823.90.6500, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). You now ask how certain similar unfinished merchandise is classifiable and whether it is subject to antidumping duties in accordance with the notice published on April 3, 1989, in the Federal Register (54 F.R. 13399).

The Customs Service is the administrative agency which has been designated to administer the HTSUSA. Therefore, the classification of imported merchandise is a matter properly determined by this agency and our ruling on your submitted sample follows. However, the determination of whether specific merchandise is subject to antidumping duties is within the purview of the International Trade Administration of the Department of Commerce. In order to ascertain whether your merchandise is subject to the antidumping order contained in 54 F.R. 13399, you should submit a copy of this ruling to the following address:

Office of Dumping Compliance
Attn: Mr. Horace Jennings
International Trade Administration
Department of Commerce
Washington, D.C. 20230


The submitted sample is a 25 cm by 60 cm sheet of paperboard which is covered on both surfaces with embossed aluminum foil, that, in turn, is covered with a peel-away transparent plastic film. The film adheres to a thin layer of polymer that has been applied to the surfaces of the aluminum foil. A "hinge", consisting of a 2 cm wide strip of the same composite material as the rest of the article, only without the plastic film, is attached to one of the 60 cm long sides by means of a flexible binding tape. There is no information in the file to indicate how the merchandise will be imported. For the purposes of this ruling we will assume that it will be imported in such a condition that the only processing done in this country to make finished filler pages for photo albums will be to cut the individual pages from the imported lengths and to punch holes in the "hinge" portion of each page.


Two issues are presented. The first is whether the imported merchandise has been advanced beyond the material stage to the point where it is considered to be unfinished photo album pages for tariff purposes. The second issue to be decided is which component, the paperboard, the metal foil, or the plastic sheet, imparts the essential character to the imported merchandise.


General Rule of Interpretation 2(a), HTSUSA, provides:

Any reference in a heading to an article shall be taken to include a reference to that article incomplete or unfinished, provided that, as entered, the incomplete or unfinished article has the essential character of the complete or finished article.

While the individual pages that will be made from the imported merchandise are not readily identifiable (a test used under the old Tariff Schedules of the United States Annotated (TSUSA), to determine whether material had been transformed into unfinished articles), there is no question that the instant merchandise possesses the essential character of photo album pages, which is the requirement set out in GRI 2(a), for unfinished goods to be classifiable as though they were finished.

As imported, its identity as photo album pages is readily apparent. The merchandise possesses all the characteristics of photo album pages and is complete except for uncomplicated and inexpensive processing (cutting to size and punching holes). It is, therefore, classifiable as though it were finished.

Where goods are described by two or more headings, those goods are classifiable in accordance with GRI 3, HTSUSA, which states:

(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 * * * 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.

(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), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

(c) When goods cannot be classified by reference to 3(a) or 3(b), they shall be classified under the heading which occurs last in numerical order among those which equally merit consideration.

The subject merchandise is constructed from three different materials. Accordingly, there are three tariff provisions, one for each material, that describe the merchandise and GRI 3(a) requires that GRI 3(b) governs the classification of the merchandise (if it can be determined that one of the components or materials provides the essential character to the imported merchandise).

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, Explanatory Notes, which are the official interpretation of the HTSUSA at the international level (for the 4 digit headings and the 6 digit subheadings), states:

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. (at page 4; underscoring added)

In this instance, the paperboard supplies the weight and bulk of the article. In addition, it acts as a stiffener and creates the page. The aluminum foil presents a decorative background for photographs and acts as a carrier for the plastic polymer. The plastic application to the surfaces of the aluminum foil, to some
degree, holds photographs in place, but primarily serves the purpose of causing the plastic film to adhere to the surface of the aluminum foil. The plastic film allows the photographs to be displayed, it holds the pictures in place, allows them to be viewed, and protects them.

It is our view that only the plastic film and the paperboard contribute to the essential character of the merchandise and that they are equally important in relation to the existence and functioning of the imported goods. Accordingly, neither imparts the essential character to the article and, in accordance with GRI 3(c), the goods are classifiable in the last appearing provision of the two which equally merit consideration--the provision for paperboard.


The merchandise is properly classifiable as unfinished photo album pages under the provision for other (nonenumerated) articles of paperboard, in Subheading 4823.90.6500, HTSUSA, with duty, as a product of Korea, at the rate of 5.6 percent ad valorem.

In view of the above, New York Ruling 849228 is affirmed.


John Durant, Director

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