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HQ 088545

April 15, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 088545 CRS


TARIFF NO.: 5202.99.0010; 5202.99.0090; 9904.30.50

Mr. Tony Dix
Commercial Director
Edward Hall, Ltd.
Botany Works
Whaley Bridge
Stockport SK12 7DQ

RE: Processing of cotton waste including bleaching and scouring to produce purified surgical cotton constitutes a substantial transformation.

Dear Mr. Dix:

This is in reply to your letters of December 11, 1990, and January 11, 1991, concerning the country of origin of bleached cotton waste. No sample was provided.


The merchandise at issue is bleached cotton waste of which Edward Hall produce various qualities such as Bleached Comber, Bleached Cotton Strips, Bleached Rovings and Sliver. The raw material for the bleached waste, cotton waste fibers, are imported from a number of countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Argentina, Brazil, Pakistan, Japan, Thailand, the Soviet Union, China and the United States.

In the United Kingdom, the waste fibers are processed so as to produce bleached cotton suitable for use as surgical cotton. The waste fibers are first mechanically cleaned to remove dust and soil. The fibers are then chemically cleaned or scoured and then rinsed to remove proteins, natural fats, waxes and sugars, thereby rendering the waste fibers unsuitable for spinning. Subsequently, the fibers are bleached to remove natural color, then pH neutralized. Finally, the fibers are rinsed, washed, dried, inspected, baled, wrapped and labelled.

As a result of these processes, you state that the cotton waste fibers are purified, are rendered more absorbent, are bleached, and change from being convoluted in form to being partially swollen. Moreover, you state that surgical purified cotton must meet exacting standards with regard to such factors as fiber length, nap level, fiber strength, fiber diameter, degree of absorbency, pH, absence of color.


Whether the cleaning, scouring and bleaching of cotton waste fibers in the production of surgical purified cotton constitutes a substantial transformation of the fibers pursuant to 19 CFR 12.130.


Country of Origin

Pursuant to section 12.130, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 12.130), a textile or textile product which consists of materials produced or derived from, or processed in, more than one foreign territory or country shall be a product of that foreign territory or country where it last underwent a substantial transformation. A textile or textile product will be considered to have undergone a substantial transformation if it has been transformed by means of substantial manufacturing or processing operations into a new and different article of commerce.

Section 12.130(d) establishes criteria for determining whether an article has been substantially transformed. However, the criteria set forth in 19 CFR 12.130(d) are not exhaustive; one or any combination of these criteria may be determinative and additional factors may be considered.

According to 19 CFR 12.130(d)(2), the following factors are to be considered in determining whether merchandise has been subjected to substantial manufacturing or processing operations: the physical change in the material or article, the time involved in the manufacturing or processing operations, the complexity of the operations, the level or degree of skill and/or technology required, and the value added to the article.

The cotton waste fibers used in the manufacture of surgical purified cotton are the product of numerous countries. In the United Kingdom they are subjected to various processes including cleaning and bleaching. 19 CFR 12.130(e)(2)(iv) provides that an article or material usually will not be considered a product of a particular foreign country merely by having undergone one or more finishing operations such as showerproofing, superwashing, bleaching, decating, fulling, shrinking, mercerizing or similar operations. The operations performed on the cotton waste at issue is little more than a bleaching operation. Thus in light of the information presented, Customs would not normally consider the processing operations sufficiently complex to constitute a substantial manufacturing or processing operation under 19 CFR

However, we are advised that the processing operations significantly increase the absorbency of the finished product as well as remove impurities, which if they were to remain, would render the final product unsuitable for use as surgical cotton. Furthermore, once processed, the fibers are unfit for spinning and suitable only for surgical applications. In view of these considerations, Customs is of the opinion that cotton waste fibers have been substantially transformed.


Articles are classified under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUSA) in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that the classification of articles is determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes and, provided the headings or notes do not otherwise require, according to the remaining GRIs taken in order.

Heading 5202, HTSUSA, provides for cotton waste. According to The Explanatory Notes (EN), which constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level, waste of heading 5202 may contain greasy matter, dust or other extraneous matter or may have been cleaned, bleached or dyed. It may be used for spinning or other purposes. EN 52.02, 730. The merchandise at issue has been bleached and cleaned. Accordingly, the cotton waste is classifiable in heading 5202.

However, cotton waste other than comber waste is subject to an agricultural quota as provided for in subheading 9904.30.50, Subchapter IV, Chapter 99, HTSUSA. This includes card strips made from cotton having a staple length under 30.1625 mm (1 3/16 inches), lap waste, sliver waste and roving waste. Cotton waste from the United Kingdom imported during the twelve month period beginning September 20th in any year may not be entered for consumption if it exceeds the aggregate quantity specified in subheading 9904.30.50. The quota for cotton waste of UK origin is 653,695 kilograms of which 23,934 kilograms had been utilized as of April 5, 1991. The quota on cotton comber waste was suspended indefinitely pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 6228 dated November 13, 1990, 55 Fed. Reg. 47,835.


The country of origin of the cotton waste fibers at issue is the United Kingdom.

The cotton waste is classifiable in subheading 5202.99.0010, HTSUSA, under the provision for cotton waste, other, provided for in subheading 9904.30.50; or, in subheading 5202.99.0090, HTSUSA, under the provision for cotton waste, other, other. Cotton waste classifiable in both of these subheadings may be entered free of duty; however, cotton waste of subheading 5202.99.0010 is subject to quota as provided for in subheading 9904.30.50, HTSUSA.

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

The holding in this ruling applies only to the specific factual situation and merchandise identified in the ruling request. This position is clearly set forth in section 177.9(b)(1), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 177.9(b)(1)). This section states that a ruling letter is issued on the assumption that all of the information furnished in connection with the ruling request and incorporated in the ruling letter, either directly, by reference, or by implication, is accurate and complete in every material respect. Should it subsequently be determined that the information furnished is not complete and does not comply with 19 CFR 177.9(b)(1), the ruling will be subject to modification or revocation. In the event there is a change in the facts previously furnished this may affect the determination of country of origin. In such a case, it is recommended that a new ruling request be submitted in accordance with section 177.2, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 177.2).


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