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HQ 088990

August 2, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 088990 KWM


TARIFF No.: 6815.99.4000

Ms. Debbi Jones
Customs Administrator
Subaru of America
P.O. Box 6000
Cherry Hills, New Jersey 08034-6000

RE: Automotive gaskets; Aramid fiber; Nonwoven textiles; Mineral fillers; Composite gasket material.

Dear Ms. Jones:

We have received your correspondence dated March 18, 1991, regarding the tariff classification of automotive gaskets containing aramid fibers. Our response follows.


The merchandise at issue is described as automotive gaskets containing aramid fibers. The gaskets are imported as replacement parts from Japan. The gaskets are composed of a sheet of minerals and aramid fibers which are mixed with a blend of synthetic rubber. Your letter states that they are used as seals for fuel and lubricating oils in engine or transmission cases of motor vehicles and vary in size and shape depending on application. Your letter also provided the following component material breakdown, by weight:

Minerals 50%
Aramid fibers 10%
Synthetic Rubber 20%
Miscellaneous or Etc. 20%

Your letter did not further specify what mineral substances may be present, or what comprises the "miscellaneous" material.


How are the gaskets classified under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated?


Classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). The systematic detail of the harmonized system is such that virtually all goods are classified by application of GRI 1,
that is, according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relevant Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI's may be applied, taken in order.

The gaskets used as parts of internal combustion engines are generally provided for in chapter 84, HTSUSA, unless they are excluded by the legal notes for section XVI (including chapter 84, HTSUSA) or the notes for chapter 84 itself. We find that they are excluded. Note 1(a) to chapter 84, HTSUSA, provides:

1. This Chapter does not cover:
(a) Millstones, grindstones and other articles of Chapter 68;

(Emphasis added). Chapter 68, HTSUSA classifies, among other things, "articles of stone or of other mineral substances . . . not elsewhere specified or included." The gaskets in question are considered to be "articles of mineral substances." Customs has found that similar gaskets are composed of two principle materials, aramid fiber and various mineral substances. Gaskets such as these were developed to replace gaskets made of asbestos. To duplicate the performance characteristics of their asbestos predecessors, modern gaskets combine aramid fiber of differing lengths with specific minerals, depending on the intended use of the product. Both materials are essential to the proper use of the gasket. However, the nomenclature does not provide for articles of aramid fiber. Therefore, there are no two headings which equally merit consideration under GRI 3. Among the remaining components, the mineral substances are clearly the predominant material. Therefore, aramid fiber/mineral material is classified as an article of mineral substances classified in chapter 68, HTSUSA, and would be excluded from section XVI (including chapter 84) HTSUSA.

The transmission gaskets might be considered parts of automobiles, but they too are excluded by legal note 2(a) to section XVII:
2. The expression "parts" and "parts and accessories" do not apply to the following articles, whether or not they are identifiable as for the goods of the Section:

(a) Joints, washers or the like of any material (classified according to their constituent material or in heading No.
84.84) . . .

The General Explanatory Notes for section XVII, HTSUSA, indicate that the note 2(a) exclusion is applicable to gaskets. Further, the language of the notes indicates to us that the constituent material analysis set out above is the proper method for classifying merchandise of this type.

Having found no heading which, by GRI 1, serves to classify the goods, we find that the gaskets are classified in subheading 6815.99.4000, HTSUSA, as other articles of mineral substances. We base our classification on the analysis above, finding that two principle materials are present in this product: aramid fiber and mineral substances. We further find that neither material clearly establishes the essential character of the gasket; the aramid fiber provides wear resistance and is the more technologically advanced material, while the mineral substances also contribute to the performance characteristics of the product and are predominant by bulk and weight. There, we have applied GRI 3(c) and classified the product under that heading which occurs last in numerical order.


The subject merchandise, gaskets used as seals for fuel and oil in engines and transmissions, made of a composite material including aramid fiber and mineral substances, is classified in subheading 6815,99,4000, HTSUSA, as articles of other mineral substances. The applicable rate of duty is 4.5 percent ad valorem.


John A. Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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