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NY 862972

May 31, 1991

CLA-2-62:S:N:N:3H-354 862972


TARIFF NO.: 6212.90.0030, 9506.99.6080, 9506.99.2000

Mr. James P. Sullivan
Sullivan & Lynch, P.C.
156 State Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02109

RE: The tariff classification of neoprene and nylon supports from Korea.

Dear Mr. Sullivan:

In your letter dated April 26, 1991, on behalf of your client Sports Products Marketing, Inc., you requested a classification ruling for certain Hummel Protect Support Products.

You have submitted five samples. The elbow support de luxe, sample C, is made of 90 percent neoprene rubber and 10 percent nylon. It is said to be used to protect the muscles, tendons and ligaments around the elbow. Specially designed for indoor sports, the elbow support has a circular impact absorbing foam pad approximately 8 millimeters thick.

The shin protector, sample E, is made of 90 percent neoprene rubber and 10 percent nylon. The guard measures about 36 centimeters in length and contains shock absorbing foam strips roughly 12 millimeters thick. It is said to be specially designed for use in the play of soccer.

You contend that the Hummel Protect Support products are properly classifiable as sports equipment in heading 9506, Harmonized Tariff Schedules of the United States (HTS), given that the components serve as protective equipment for sports and are similar to certain protection devices enumerated in the Explanatory Notes to heading 95.06, HTS.

Heading 9506, HTS, provides for, inter alia, articles and equipment for gymnastics, athletics, other sports and outdoor games. The Explanatory Notes (EN), which although not legally binding, constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level, provide at EN 95.06(B) (13) that Chapter 95 includes protective equipment for sports or games such as fencing masks and breast plates, elbow and knee pads, cricket pads and shin guards.

The sports protective equipment intended for inclusion within heading 9506, HTS, recognizes only that equipment designed exclusively for protection against injury, that is, having protective features with the sole or primary function of directly absorbing the impact of blows, collisions or flying objects. The sample E padded shin guard, specially designed to protect against leg blows in the game of soccer, and the sample C elbow support de luxe, which primarily provides protection against blows or falls, qualify as the kind of athletic protective equipment embraced by heading 9506. Although it is not addressed in your inquiry, this tariff treatment would also extend to the knee support de luxe but not to the balance of the knee supports and elbow supports depicted in the pictorial literature accompanying your letter.

Accordingly, the shin protector is classifiable in subheading 9506.99.2000, HTS, under the provision for articles and equipment for gymnastics, athletics, other sports...or outdoor games...football, soccer and polo articles and equipment, except balls, and parts and accessories thereof. The rate of duty is 4.9 percent ad valorem.

The elbow support de luxe is classifiable in subheading 9506.99.6080, HTS, the provision for articles and equipment for gymnastics, athletics, other sports...or outdoor games...; other. The rate of duty is 4.64 percent ad valorem.

The back support lumbago, sample A, is made of neoprene covered by knit nylon fabric on both sides. The support is belt- shaped, measuring approximately 95 centimeters in length. The support measures 26 centimeters in width at the center of the back, tapering to 14 centimeters in width near the support's rounded, hook and loop closures. The support has five flat plastic stiffeners, each measuring 19 centimeters by 3 centimeters. The stiffeners are inserted into five parallel pockets sewn into the interior back section of the support. The exterior of the support has a permanently attached, 12 centimeter wide, size adjustment band with hook and loop fabric. You state that the support will be used to treat and prevent back pain during weight lifting.

The knee support hinged, sample D, is made of neoprene covered by knit nylon fabric on both sides. The knee support measures approximately 30 centimeters in length. The tube-like support consists of two panels. The back panel measures 9 centimeters across and has a 5 centimeter hole at the back of the knee. At the top of the panel is a hook and loop adjustment strap. The front panel covers the front and sides of the knee area. It has a 3 centimeter hole at the knee, a wide hook and loop adjustment strap above the knee, and a narrow adjustment strap below the knee. On each side of the knee there is a covered , hinged metal support. The hinged supports run parallel to the leg, and measure approximately 26 centimeters in length. You state that the straps and hinges support the knee preventing "reinjury to a previously sensitive knee."

You contend that heading 9506, HTS, would apply to sample A, the back support lumbago, and sample D, the knee support hinged. As discussed above, heading 9506, HTS, will not apply to these items as their sole or primary function is not to directly absorb the impact of blows, collisions or flying objects.

As an alternative to heading 9506, HTS, you contend that the applicable heading for samples A and D is heading 9021, HTS, which provides for, inter alia, orthopedic appliances. The Explanatory Notes to heading 9021 provide that the heading includes appliances for preventing or correcting bodily deformities; or supporting or holding organs following an illness or operation. Despite the existence of adjustment straps and hinges on the knee support hinged and the stiffeners and adjustment band on the back support lumbago, we would not consider these items, which may be used to prevent sprains or strains and to support the area of the body where they are worn, to be of the class or kind of appliance used with recovery from bodily deformity or used following illness or operation of an incapacitating nature.

The pants, sample B, are made of neoprene covered by knit nylon fabric on both sides. The parts measure approximately 46 centimeters in length and would extend to the mid or lower thigh. They consist of three panels. There is a front panel, a back panel, and a third panel which connects the first two panels to provide additional room through the inner thighs and groin area. You state that the parts are used to prevent and treat groin strains.

The applicable subheading for sample A, the back support lumbago, sample B, the pants, and sample D, the knee support hinged, will be 6212.90.0030, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), which provides for brassieres, girdles, corsets, braces, suspenders, garters and similar articles and parts thereof, whether or not knitted or crocheted: other, of man-made fibers or man made fibers and rubber or plastics. The duty rate will be 7 percent ad valorem.

The back support lumbago, pants and knee support hinged fall within textile category designation 659. Based upon international textile trade agreements, products of Korea are subject to quota restraints and visa requirements.

The designated textile and apparel category may be subdivided into parts. If so, visa and quota requirements applicable to the subject merchandise may be affected. Since part categories are the result of international bilateral agreements which are subject to frequent renegotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available, we suggest that you check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report on Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an internal issuance of the U.S. Customs Service, which is available for inspection at your local Customs office.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Section 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 177).

A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If the documents have been filed without a copy, this ruling should be brought to the attention of the Customs officer handling the transaction.


Jean F. Maguire

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