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HQ 087328

SEPT 26 1990

CLA-2:CO:R:C:G 087328 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 8480.60.0090

Richard M. Belanger, Esq.
Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy
1001 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004

RE: Concrete Formwork

Dear Mr. Belanger:

In your letter of May 1, 1990, on behalf of Huennebeck (North America) Co., you inquire as to the tariff status of formwork from West Germany. This formwork is used in shaping concrete in the construction of walls, ceilings and other service applications in the construction industry. Our ruling follows.


This inquiry covers five (5) types of formwork, designated, respectively, Manto, Lightweight, Full Tunnel System, Hucco Wall and Hucco Soffit. Each formwork system is modular and consists of components which can be rearranged to meet a range of construction needs. The components of each system are primarily of metal, but some are of wood and some contain plastic.

Manto designates a formwork system used in the construction of concrete walls. This system consists of a series of panels ranging from 240 x 300/270 cm. down to 45 x 120 cm. Each panel consists of a steel lattice frame with plastic coated (phenol resin) plywood facing. Different sized panels can be combined in various ways - vertically and horizontally, in upright positions or lying on their sides, connected by panel and corner clamps and multi-purpose walers. Aligning props keep the panels upright. In use, panel configurations are aligned by crane to face one another and concrete poured between them. Lightweight formwork panels are identical to the Manto panels except they are lighter in weight for manual handling.

The Full Tunnel System, entirely of steel construction, is a series of modules, each consisting of panels in the configuration of a roof plus two or three sides. The modules are reinforced by tubular braces running from the bottom of the walls to the roof. These modules in effect are molds used in hospital and hotel construction to make individual rooms or apartment units.

Hucco designates a wall formwork consisting of a specified number of wood I-beams, clamps, walers and other steel connecting pieces, all imported unassembled. At the jobsite individual wood lattices are assembled from these components and a shutter skin and perimeter retaining sections, both of plywood and sourced domestically, are nailed on to complete the mold.

Hucco Soffit is identical to the Hucco wall formwork except that it is used to form slabs or floors rather than walls. This formwork consists of a specific number of wood I- beams and adjustable steel folding props with fork heads and supporting tripods, all imported unassembled. Beams are placed longitudinally in the fork heads of the props which are positioned in parallel rows. Other beams are then laid in the traverse position to complete a lattice frame. Domestically sourced plywood surface sections and perimeter retaining sections are then placed on this wood frame and a series of compression resistant push-pull props placed around the perimeter to complete the mold.

Each importation of formwork consists of a specific number of components required for an individual job. There are no extra pieces.


Whether the formwork systems, or any of them, are classifiable as molds for mineral materials in heading 8480.


Merchandise is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 states, in part, that for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes and, provided the headings or notes do not provide otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6. GRI 2(a) states that 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. It shall also include a reference to that article complete or finished (or falling to be classified as complete or finished by virtue of this rule), entered unassembled or disassembled.

Relevant Explanatory Notes (ENs), which constitute the Customs Cooperation Council's official interpretation of the Harmonized System, indicate that the essential function of a mould [of heading 8480] is to retain the material in a predetermined shape while it sets and that some moulds also exert a certain pressure on the material. Among the moulds used with mineral materials are those for moulding concrete, cement or asbestos-cement goods including wall, floor or roof slabs, etc., and moulds for making prefabricated construction elements of reinforced or prestressed concrete.

Under the authority of GRI 2(a), HTSUSA, the constituent elements of the Manto, Lightweight, and Full Tunnel formwork systems, entered unassembled, are provided for in heading 8480 as molds for mineral materials.

Under the authority of GRI 2(a), the components of the Hucco wall and Hucco Soffit formworks are considered incomplete or unfinished molds of heading 8480 only if they have the essential character of a complete or finished mold. The factor which determines essential character will vary with the goods. Among other things, Customs will examine the nature of the imported component or components as it/they relate to the completed article, its value, or by the role of the imported component in relation to the use of the completed article. The cited ENs state that the essential function of a mold for mineral substances is its ability to retain the material in a predetermined shape while it sets. Neither the plywood surface and perimeter retaining sections which give shape to the concrete as it hardens, nor the Hucco wall and Soffit wood beams, props and connecting hardware, which resist the tremendous compressive forces of the wet concrete, accomplish this purpose independently. However, when assembled without the plywood panels the beams, props and connecting hardware have the visual appearance of a completed mold. These components comprise the frame of the mold and impart its form or outline. Moreover, the imported components comprise the overwhelming portion of the molds' total value when finally completed. We therefore conclude that the components of the Hucco wall and Soffit formwork, imported incomplete and unassembled, have the essential character of a completed mold for purposes of GRI 2(a), and are likewise classifiable in heading 8480.


The components of the Manto, Lightweight, Full Tunnel System, Hucco wall and Hucco Soffit formwork are classifiable in heading 8480. Actual classification is in subheading 8480.60.0090, other molds for mineral materials. The rate of duty is 3.9 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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