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HQ 088426

August 8, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 088426 DWS


TARIFF NO.: 5911.90.00

Mr. Robert E. Burke
Barnes, Richardson & Colburn
200 East Randolph Drive
Chicago, IL 60601

RE: Filtration Replacement Parts

Dear Mr. Burke:

This is in response to your letter of December 5, 1991, concerning the classification of filtration replacement parts under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).


The imported merchandise consists of a set of replacement parts for filtration machines or modules. These modules are primarily used to filter milk products, although they may also be used to filter blood, pharmaceuticals and sludge. The set of parts is comprised of filter membranes, passage rings, and lock rings. When assembled together with a plastic support plate, these parts constitute a self-contained, self-functioning filter unit. The two filter membranes are fastened on both sides of a support plate through the use of the lock rings and passage rings. The module is made of several of these filter units, sandwiched on top of one another. The filter units are connected and supported by distribution rings, spacers and other components.

The number of filter units within each filter module varies depending on the material to be processed, in that the quantity or viscosity of material determines the number of filter units inserted within the filter module. The actual filtering is accomplished by the membrane, itself made of nonwoven material composed of man-made fibers. The fibers are spun-bound in three layers by a calendering process. The heat and pressure generated during calendering gives the membrane its shiny appearance. After the nonwoven fabric is created, it is coated with a plastic substance on one side. The lock rings, passage rings, and support plates are made of plastic.


What is the classification of the set of replacement parts under the HTSUSA?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification is determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.

Because the replacement parts exist as a set, one must look to GRI 3(b) for guidance. GRI 3(b) provides:

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 which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

As it is acknowledged that the replacement parts constitute a set put up for retail sale, the next determination to be made is the essential character of the set. Counsel for the importer agrees that it is the membrane that imparts the character of the set. The membrane is the part that does the actual filtering within the filtration module. Therefore, it is the membrane that imparts the essential character of the replacement part set.

Counsel for the importer claims that the set is classifiable under heading 8421, HTSUSA, which provides for filtering machines and apparatus and parts thereof. However, Section XVI, Note 1(e) states that the section does not cover "other articles of textile material for technical uses." The filtration membrane falls under this exclusion in that it is a textile article for a technical use (filtration). Because of the exclusion, the replacement parts are not classifiable under heading 8421, HTSUSA.

Counsel also argues that since the replacement parts are parts, rather than materials, they should be classifiable under heading 8421, HTSUSA. No one disputes the fact that the replacement parts are parts for classification purposes. In fact, that is how they are described. However, the issue of whether they are parts is irrelevant in this case, due to the Note 1(e) exclusion.

The parts are classifiable under heading 5911, HTSUSA, which provides for Textile products and articles, for technical uses. Note 7(b) to Chapter 59 states that "Heading 5911 applies to the following goods, which do not fall in any other heading of Section XI:

Textile articles (other than those of headings 5908 to 5910) of a kind used for technical purposes (for example, textile fabrics and felts, endless or fitted with linking devices, of a kind used in papermaking or similar machines [for example, for pulp or asbestos-cement], gaskets, washers, polishing discs and other machinery parts."

The set of replacement parts fits squarely under heading 5911, HTSUSA. As has been noted, the membrane is a textile material used for a technical purpose. Counsel argues for a limited interpretation of Note 7(b) by stating that it is limited to textile materials used in papermaking or similar machines. That analysis is incorrect. The example given in Note 7(b) is not exhaustive, but merely illustrates an example of what is to be included in heading 5911. Furthermore, the example of papermaking machines modifies the "textile fabrics" language of Note 7(b), not the "textile articles" language. If counsel's interpretation were adopted some of the language of Note 7(b) would have no meaning.


The set of filtration replacement parts is classifiable under subheading 5911.90.00, HTSUSA, which provides for Textile products and articles, for technical uses, specified in note 7 to this chapter: Other. The general, column one rate of duty is 7.5 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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