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HQ 088574

April 17, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 088574 HP


TARIFF NO.: 4104.22.0000

Mr. George Donath
Kaufmann Demuth & Co. Ltd.
C.I. Tower
St. George's Square
New Malden

RE: Wet blue bovine hides and skins are otherwise pretanned, not parchment dressed or prepared after tanning.

Dear Mr. Donath:

This is in reply to your letter of January 16, 1991, to the Customs Attach, London, concerning the tariff classification of wet blue hides, produced in the United Kingdom, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).


The merchandise at issue consists of wet blue1 lime split skins of English oxen and heifers, not further prepared.


Whether the hides are correctly classified as bovine leather?


Heading 4104, HTSUSA, provides for leather of bovine or equine animals. 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 considered 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. The EN to heading 0102, HTSUSA, defines bovine animals as:

... all animals of the subfamily Bovinae, whether or not domestic.... These include, inter alia:

(1) Animals of the genus Bos, including the common ox (Bos taurus), the Zebu or humped ox (Bos indicus) and the
Watussi ox.

We assume for the purposes of this ruling that your oxen/heifers fall within this category.

Subheading 4104.22.0000, HTSUSA, provides for, inter alia, bovine leather, not vegetable pretanned but otherwise pretanned, not further tanned, retanned or otherwise further prepared. Although no sample was submitted with your request, we assume from your description of the merchandise at issue that this language fully describes your product.

You state that you were requested by one of your customers, Lackawanna Leather Company of Omaha, Nebraska, to invoice the above-described merchandise not as wet blue hides, but as semi-finished hides for upholstery leather. You did so, after expressing your concerns to your customer that you considered the U.S.A. subheading (4104.39.4000, HTSUSA) incorrect. As a result of your new invoicing, the merchandise was entered at a slightly lower duty rate. Your customer now requests that you reimburse him the difference between the duty rates of wet blue hides and upholstery leather. Although the matter of reimbursement is purely a contract matter between your two companies, you have requested us to address the classification dispute between you and Lackawanna Leather.

Classification of the instant merchandise under subheading 4104.39.4000, HTSUSA, is incorrect. GRI 6 states that "classification of goods in the subheadings [(i.e., beyond the four digit level)] of a heading shall be determined according to the terms of those subheadings...." Explanatory Note (III) to this rule provides that "[t]he scope of a two- dash heading shall not extend beyond that of the one dash heading...." Therefore, in order for merchandise to be classified in subheading 4104.39.40, HTSUSA, it must be classifiable in subheading 4104.39, HTSUSA.

Subheading 4104.39, HTSUSA, provides for similar bovine or equine leather as is described in subheading 4104.22, HTSUSA, but the former leather must be either parchment- dressed or prepared after tanning. As you have stated, the instant merchandise is merely wet blue. It is consequently
not classifiable in subheading 4104.39, HTSUSA, as either parchment-dressed or prepared after tanning.


1.In HRL 088001 of January 14, 1991, we stated:

[w]et blue ... skins are processed in a manner that they are considered to be leather. It is true that they are imported wet and often retanned after importation, but this is to avoid certain difficulties in the handling of such skins.

However, these conditions do not alter the fact that [these] skins are leather and considered as such for tariff purposes.


As a result of the foregoing, the instant merchandise is classified under subheading 4104.22.0000, HTSUSA, as leather of bovine or equine animals, without hair on, other than leather of heading 4108 or 4109, other bovine leather and equine leather, pretanned, tanned or retanned but not further prepared, whether or not split, bovine leather, otherwise pretanned. The applicable rate of duty is 5 percent ad valorem.


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