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HQ 089599

August 21, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 089599 KCC


TARIFF NO.: 7806.00.00

Mr. William T. Kiley
A.N. Deringer, Inc.
161 Prescott Street
East Boston, Massachusetts 02128

RE: Braided Lead-Core Line; GRI 3(b); essential character; Compendium Classification Opinions; 858087

Dear Mr. Kiley:

This is in response to your letter dated May 8, 1991, to Customs in Boston, on behalf of IPM Fishing Gear, regarding the tariff classification of braided lead-core line under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). Your letter and sample were forwarded to this office for a response.


The product under consideration is a braided rope which has a core composed of small pieces of lead strung together on a textile yarn. By weight, the line is made up of 31% polypropylene fiber and 69% lead. By value, the line is made up of 25.5% polypropylene fiber and 40% lead. The braided lead-core line is generally used to weigh down fishing nets.


What is the proper tariff classification of the braided lead-core line under the HTSUSA?


The classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). When goods are prima facie classifiable under two or more headings GRI 3 is applicable. In this case classification is determined by application of GRI 3(b) which provides in pertinent part:

Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components...shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character....

In general, essential character has been construed to mean the attribute which strongly marks or serves to distinguish what an article is; that which is indispensable to the structure, core or condition of the article. In addition, the Explanatory Notes provide further factors which help determine the essential character of goods. Factors such as bulk, quantity, weight or value, or the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods are to be utilized, though the importance of certain factors will vary between different kinds of goods. See, The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (EN) Rule 3(b), Vol. 1, page 4.

In May 1987, the 8th Interim Harmonized System Committee decided to include in the Harmonized Compendium of Classification Opinions a classification opinion written under the Customs Cooperation Council Nomenclature for applicability under the Harmonized System. This classification opinion held that "sinking cord" is classifiable in subheading 5808.10, HTSUSA, which provides for braids in the piece. The "sinking cord" is described as a cotton braid enclosing a core of fine cotton yarn to which small pieces of lead are fixed at intervals of 2 mm along the length of the cord. It is further described as being incorporated in fishing nets.

Similarly to the Explanatory Notes, the issuance of a classification opinion in the Compendium Classification Opinions constitute the Customs Cooperation Council's official interpretation of the Harmonized System. Although generally indicative of the proper interpretation of the various provisions, they are not legally binding on the contracting parties. Thus, while they should be consulted for guidance, these documents should not be treated as dispositive. T.D. 89- 90, 23 Cust. Bull. 36 (1989), and 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).

We are of the opinion that the Compendium Classification Opinion concerning the "sinking cord" is distinguishable from the braided lead-core line. Although we are unaware of the value or weight breakdowns of the "sinking cord", we are under the assumption that the cotton was the essential character of the "sinking cord", and, therefore, it was classified in subheading 5808.10, HTSUSA, as braids in the piece, of cotton.

However, the essential character of the braided lead-core line is lead. The lead content constitutes the greatest weight and value of the braided lead-core line. The lead is the component which serves to distinguish the use of the braided lead-core line. The lead weighs down the line so when it is used in fishing nets, the nets will remain underwater to catch the desired fish. Therefore, the braided lead-core line is properly classified under subheading 7806.00.00, HTSUSA, as "Other articles of lead." See also, New York (NY) 858087 which found that a twine product with a lead core which was 80% of its value was the essential character of the twine and classified in subheading 7806.00.00, HTSUSA.


The braided lead-core line is properly classified in subheading 7806.00.00, HTSUSA, which provides for "Other articles of lead."


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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