United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 1991 HQ Rulings > HQ 0088455 - HQ 0088547 > HQ 0088460

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

HQ 088460

June 17, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 088460 HP


TARIFF NO.: 7326.20.0050

Mr. Matthew Chang
Assistant Vice President
C. Itoh & Co. (America) Inc.
335 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10017

RE: Hollow sleeve of braided construction, of 80% stainless steel ("Susmic") fibers and 20% aramid ("Kevlar") nylon man- made fibers, imported in continuous rolls, used as an insul- ating material on a roller cover for a glass manufacturing line, has essential character of steel wire.

Dear Mr. Chang:

This is in reply to your letter of September 18, 1990, to our New York office, concerning the tariff classification of insulating material, produced in Japan, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).


The merchandise at issue consists of a yellow and silver hollow sleeve of braided (not knit) construction. You have stated in conversations with this office that the product is imported in continuous rolls of 10 meters, not cut to a spec- ific size for a particular machine. The product is used as an insulating material on a roller cover for a glass manufac- turing line. The tubular braid is approximately 2" in dia- meter (3" flattened) with a composition, by weight, of 80% stainless steel ("Susmic") fibers (silver) and 20% aramid ("Kevlar") nylon man-made fibers (yellow). The materials are broken down by value as 90% Susmic and 10% Kevlar.

The yarns of this braid each consist of a multi-filament three-ply yarn. Each ply is a blend of grouped filaments of both Susmic and Kevlar.


Whether the merchandise at issue is considered textile or steel under the HTSUSA?


Heading 5911, HTSUSA, provides for, inter alia, cords, braids and the like of a kind used in industry as packing or lubricating materials. Since your merchandise is used as an insulating material, this heading is not applicable.

As we stated above, the merchandise is a combination of stainless steel fibers and man-made fibers. Heading 5808, HTSUSA, provides for, inter alia, braids in the piece. Head- ing 7326, HTSUSA, provides for articles of steel. The General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs) to the HTSUSA govern the class- ification of goods in the tariff schedule. GRI 1 states, in pertinent part, that:

... 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. GRI 3 states, in pertinent part:

When by application of Rule 2(b) [goods of more than one material or substance] or for any other reason, goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows:

(b) Mixtures, composite goods con- sisting of different materials or made up of different com- ponents, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which can- not be classified by reference to 3(a) [which requires that goods be classified, if poss- ible, under the more specific of the competing provisions], shall be classified as if they con- sisted of the material or compo- nent which gives them their es- sential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

The Explanatory Notes (EN) to the HTSUSA constitute the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level. While not legally binding, they do represent the con- sidered views of classification experts of the Harmonized System Committee. It has therefore been the practice of the Customs Service to follow, whenever possible, the terms of the Explanatory Notes when interpreting the HTSUSA. Explanatory Note (IX) to GRI 3 provides:

For the purposes of [GRI 3(b)], composite goods made up of different components shall be taken to mean not only those in which the components are attached to each other to form a practically inseparable whole but also those with separable com- ponents, provided these components are adapted to one another and are mutually complementary and that together they form a whole which would not normally be off- ered for sale in separate parts.

[C]lassification [of composite goods] is made according to the component, or com- ponents taken together, which can be re- garded as conferring on the set as a whole its essential character.

The factors which determine essential character of an article will vary from case to case. It may be the nature of the materials or the components, its bulk, quantity, weight, value, or the role a material plays in relation to the use of the goods. In general, essential character has been construed to mean the attribute which strongly marks or serves to dis- tinguish what an article is; that which is indispensable to the structure or condition of an article.

You state that the

Susmic fiber is used as a substitute for fiber glass, the product used heretofore for such applications. It has been found that its durability is superior to fiber glass because of its greater heat resis- tance. Kevlar also possesses durability against heat, and also adds tensile strength to the product. The resultant commodity is considerably more durable under the intense heat conditions which exist in the glass-forming industry.

The Customs Office of Laboratories and Scientific Services has determined that the steel also affords the braid its dura- bility and toughness. This, in addition to the fact that the steel comprises an overwhelming portion of the braid's value, causes us to conclude that the stainless steel fibers impart to the merchandise at issue its essential character. There- fore, the braid is considered an article of steel. It has been suggested by our New York office that since the stainless steel is in the form of fibers, the braid should be classifiable not as an article of steel, but as a textile braid of other fibers. Cf. HRL 084861 of August 24, 1989 (both metal-reinforced and metallized yarns considered other textiles rather than man-made textiles). We disagree.

Note 2 to Section 11, HTSUSA, states that for purposes of woven fabric construction, metal thread is considered a tex- tile. Fabrication of a tubular braid, wherein the threads run spirally from one edge to another in a zig-zag or more complex fashion (EN to heading 5808, HTSUSA), clearly does not encom- pass the "warp and weft" operation required for the manufac-
ture of woven fabric.


As a result of the foregoing, the instant merchandise is classifiable under subheading 7326.20.0050, HTSUSA, as other articles of iron or steel, articles of iron or steel wire, other. The applicable rate of duty is 5.7 percent ad valorem.


Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: