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HQ 089315

September 17, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 089315 CRS


TARIFF NO.: 4412.12.2060

Carl D. Cammarata, Esq.
George R. Tuttle, P.C.
Three Embarcadero Center
Suite 1160
San Francisco, CA 94111

RE: Term "wood" as used in heading 4409 does not cover plywood. EN 44.09, EN 44.12. Plywood flooring panels for cargo containers classifiable as plywood of heading 4412.

Dear Mr. Cammarata:

This is in reply to your letters dated February 28, 1991, and May 9, 1991, on behalf of Itel Containers International Corporation, concerning the classification of plywood flooring panels under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). A further submission was made in a letter dated September 4, 1991.


The merchandise at issue consists of "sets" of plywood panels made from keruing, a nonconiferous wood (scientific name: Dipterocarpus spp.) The panels are made from nineteen veneer plies, each less than 6 mm thick, laminated together with a marine type adhesive. A "set" consists of three pair of panels. One pair measures 1,916 mm by 1,127 mm; the second, 2,050 mm by 1,127 mm; and the third, 1,480 mm by 1,127 mm. Each panel has a cut 37 mm wide by 6 mm deep along each edge. In addition, 1/4 inch chamfers have been cut into the corners along the bottom edges and ends of the panels. The flooring panels are used for cargo containers and will be imported from South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, and China.


The issue presented is whether the plywood flooring panels in question are classifiable as wood or as plywood.


Two headings are relevant for the purposes of this ruling: heading 4409, HTSUSA, which provides for wood (including strips and friezes for parquet flooring, not assembled) continuously shaped (tongued, grooved, rebated, chamfered, V-jointed, beaded, molded, rounded or the like along any of its edges or faces, whether or not planed, sanded or finger-jointed; and heading 4412, HTSUSA, which provides for plywood, veneered panels and similar laminated wood.

The flooring panels are made from plywood, i.e., a product consisting of three or more sheets of wood glued and pressed one on the other so that the grains of successive layers are at an angle. Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, Explanatory Notes, EN 44.12, 632. Furthermore, EN 44.12 provides that products of heading 4412 may be "curved, corrugated, cut or formed to shapes other than square or rectangular or submitted to any other operation provided it does not give them the character of articles of other headings." EN 44.12, 632. The floor panels are made from plywood, a material which is specifically provided for in heading 4412 and which does not have the character of articles of any other heading. You contend, however, that plywood flooring is classifiable as wood of heading 4409, specifically in subheading 4409.20.2560, under the provision for other wood flooring. In this regard you state that the term "wood" in heading 4409 should be construed broadly so as to encompass all flooring, whether of wood, plywood, or laminated wood. We disagree.

EN 44.09, 629, provides that heading 4409 covers "timber, particularly in the form of boards, planks, etc." The term "timber" refers to lumber, i.e., "the product of a saw mill not further manufactured than by sawing, resawing, passing lengthwise through a standard planing machine, crosscutting to length, and matching." U.S. Dep't of Agriculture, The Wood Handbook (1974), G-6. In contrast, plywood is a glued wood panel made from thin layers of veneer. Id., G-7. Plywood has thus been further manufactured beyond the sawing, resawing, etc., that is characteristic of timber or lumber.

In addition, the Explanatory Notes exclude certain articles from heading 4409. EN 44.09 provides:

The heading also covers strips and friezes for parquet flooring consisting of narrow pieces of boards, provided they have been continuously shaped, e.g., tongued and grooved. If they have not been worked beyond planing, sanding or end-jointing, e.g., finger- jointing, they fall in heading 44.07.

Strips of plywood or veneered wood for parquet flooring are also excluded (heading 44.12).

Thus the Explanatory Notes distinguish between wood strips and friezes for parquet flooring, and plywood strips and friezes, the former being classifiable in heading 4409, the latter in heading 4412. This reinforces the plain meaning of the terms of the headings viz., that wood is classifiable in heading 4409, while plywood is classifiable in heading 4412. Consequently, plywood flooring is classifiable in heading 4412, HTSUSA, pursuant to General Rule of Interpretation 1.


The merchandise in question is classifiable in subheading 4412.12.2060, HTSUSA, under the provision for plywood, veneered panels and similar laminated wood; plywood consisting solely of sheets of wood, each ply not exceeding 6 mm in thickness; other, with at least one outer ply of nonconiferous wood; not surface covered, or surface covered with a clear or transparent material which does not obscure the grain, texture or markings of the face ply; other; other; other; not surface covered. The panels are dutiable at the rate of 8 percent ad valorem.


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