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HQ 086585

September 10, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 086585 SER/JGB


TARIFF NO.: 2918.19.9000

Mr. Alfred T. Ericson
Sandoz Pharmaceuticals Corporation
Box 83288
Lincoln, NE 68501

RE: Reconsideration and Revocation of HRL 085560; Calcium Lactobionate

Dear Mr. Ericson:

This is in reference to your request for reconsideration of the classification of calcium lactobionate under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).


Calcium lactobionate is stated to have the chemical name Calcium bis (4-o- (beta-D-galactosyl)-D- gluconate. It is used as an intermediate in organic synthesis. In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 085560, dated December 19, 1989, calcium lactobionate was classified in subheading 2940.00.0000, HTSUSA, which provides for calcium salts of a sugar ether. A previous ruling, HRL 081993, which was subsequently revoked, classified calcium lactobionate in subheading 2918.19.5000, HTSUSA, based on the listing by name of this product in the Explanatory Notes.


What is the legal classification determination of calcium lactobionate under the HTSUSA?


There are several competing subheadings in which this product has been classified. Based on a chemical structural analysis, Customs has previously determined that calcium
lactobionate was potentially classifiable in subheadings 2918.19.5000, 2932.90.5000 and 2940.00.0000, HTSUSA. In HRL 081993 calcium lactobionate was classified in subheading 2918.19.5000, HTSUSA, based on the listing of calcium lactobionate in the Explanatory Notes for Chapter 29. Later, in HRL 085560, it was determined that since calcium lactobionate was also classifiable under the provision for other heterocyclic compounds, with oxygen heteroatom of subheading 2932.90.5000, HTSUSA and also as a calcium salt of a sugar ether of subheading 2940.00.0000, HTSUSA, that legal Note 3 to Chapter 29 was the controlling factor in determining the proper classification in subheading 2940.00.0000. Note 3 states that goods which could be included in two or more headings of the chapter are to be classified in the heading which occurs last in numerical order.

Classification of goods under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that "for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes . . . ." In the International Trade Commission (ITC) report, Conversion of the Tariff Schedules of the United States Annotated into the nomenclature structure of the Harmonized System, ITC publication 1400, it is stated that, "[l]ike the interpretative rules, the legal notes form an integral part of the system and have the same legal force as the headings and subheadings (p.18)".

By contrast, Treasury Decision 89-80, in describing the status of the Explanatory Notes, provides that "[a]lthough generally indicative of proper interpretation of the various provisions of the Convention, the Explanatory Notes, like other similar publications of the Council, are not legally binding on contracting parties to the Convention. Thus, while they should be consulted for guidance, the Explanatory Notes should not be treated as dispositive."

This chemical substance has presented perplexing problems in classification for the entire chemical academic and technical community, as well as for U. S. Customs. Technical analysis by our Office of Laboratories and Scientific Services indicates that there is some measure of truth or accuracy in each of the three headings identified here. However, it does not appear that the description in each heading corresponds enough to the chemical substance to state that it "could be included in two or more headings of this chapter" to quote legal note 3 to chapter 29.

The issue of classification of calcium lactobionate was discussed by both the Chemist Committee of the Customs Cooperation Council and by the Council (CCC). A CCC document dated April 1969 shows that the debates were primarily concerned with the question of whether or not calcium lactobionate should be classified as a carboxylic acid salt with an additional oxygen function (heading 2918 in the 1991 HTS). The document indicates that by a small margin the Chemist Committee decided that the product should be classified as a carboxylic acid salt with an additional oxygen function in heading 2916, which in the current form of the HTS is included with heading 2918. The same conclusion was reached by the Nomenclature Committee of the CCC, however, by a wider margin. One of the results of the Council's decision was the specification within the Explanatory Notes of calcium lactobionate as a carboxylic acid salt containing an additional oxygen function in heading 2918.

Therefore, it is Customs position that under these distinct circumstances, it is proper to allow this classification matter to be settled according to the majority of the committee. Now that the Explanatory Notes clearly show that the intended classification of calcium lactobionate is in heading 2918, Customs will return to its original classification.


The calcium lactobionate is properly classified in subheading 2918.19.9000, HTSUSA, (formerly 2918.19.5000) as a carboxylic acid salt with an additional oxygen. The rate of duty is 4 percent ad valorem.

HRL 085560 is hereby revoked.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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