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HQ 089386

March 18, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 089386 JS


TARIFF NO.: 4202.22.4030

Steven W. Baker
Bellsey and Baker
100 California Street
Suite 670
San Francisco, CA 94111

RE: Modification of HRL 088314; ladies' evening bag; classifiable as "in part of braid," heading 4202, HTSUSA

Dear Mr. Baker:

This in reference to your request for reconsideration of HRL 088314 (issued April 7, 1991) which overturned the decision in NYRL 832975 classifying a ladies' evening bag under subheading 4202.22.4030, HTSUSA. Upon further review, we find that HRL 088314 is in error.


The goods at issue are ladies' evening bags which have visibly braided shoulder straps. NYRL 832975 classified these articles as "in part of braid." HQ 088314 reversed that determination and classified the merchandise as "not in part of braid," applying the de minimis rule articulated in Varsity Watch Company v. United States, 34 CCPA 155, C.A.D. 359 (1947), and prior Headquarters rulings.


Whether a braided strap on an evening bag is considered "in part of braid" under the HTSUSA.


You cite several court decisions and Headquarters rulings in support of your argument that the braided strap in the present merchandise is "in part of braid." You assert that these determinations have been improperly altered by our current position regarding the presence of braid on such goods.


Heading 4202, which provides for handbags, is undisputed as the applicable heading for classification. However, a further distinction exists at the subheading level with regard to whether a bag is "wholly or in part of braid" or "not in part of braid." Since the only braid apparent on the bags at issue are the braided shoulder straps, our analysis will be limited to whether the bags are "in part of braid." General Note 7 provides that, for the purposes of the tariff schedule, and unless the context otherwise requires,

(e) the terms "wholly", "in part of" and "containing", when used between the description of an article and a material (e.g. woven fabrics, wholly of cotton"), have the following meanings:

(ii) "in part of" or "containing" mean that the goods contain a significant quantity of the named material.

With regard to the application of the quantitative concepts specified above, it is intended that the de de minimis rule apply.

Our past determinations have rested on interpretation of the de minimis rule with respect to the articles presented. The rule states that an ingredient or component of an article may be ignored for classification purposes depending upon "whether or not the amount used has really changed or affected the nature of the article and, of course, its salability." Varsity Watch Company v. United States, 34 CCPA 155, C.A.D. 359 (1947). We find it appropriate to re-examine the application of the de minimis rule for the following reasons. You have stated that the strap on this evening bag is a particularly desirable and important feature of the item, that "for the evening bags under consideration, the braided shoulder straps are visible, important, 'commercially significant' components, which add to the elegance, utility, and salability of the bags; you state that the braid does far more than just 'give form' to a handle..."

We note that the strap is fully functional and likely to be used to carry the bag over the shoulder, despite its capacity to be folded into the bag, clutch-style. The braided strap constitutes the most commonly used handle of the purse, and as such, is certainly a commercially significant part. The braid itself is a more extravagant way of forming the shoulder strap, and adds to the expense and complexity of manufacture. We agree that it complements and highlights the dressy nature of the bags at issue. Moreover, the amount of braid on the purse is

significant where it forms the entire length of the shoulder strap. Thus, it enhances the utility and style of the bag, which makes the article marketable for evening wear.

The de minimis rule in this case has been satisfied, since a strap on an evening bag is a substantial part of the bag, one which in this instance, affects the nature of the article and distinguishes it for evening or formal wear. In this respect, we agree with your assertions and deem the samples at issue to be "wholly or in part of braid."

In several of the previous Customs decisions which classified similar bags as "not in part of braid", we find that the amount or significance of the braid was indeed de minimis; for instance, HRL 081483 (April 27, 1989) a bag with a small braided strip of fabric, measuring 1/8 inch wide and attached to the top of the bag to hold together gathers is considered not in part of braid; another bag style in the same ruling was also considered de minimis where the braid was sewn into the fabric so that it could not be seen. Similarly, HRL 088050 considered de minimis a small braided strip of fabric, measuring 1/8 inch wide, which was used to hold the gathers of a child's handbag secure.


Pursuant to the analysis above, we find that the braided shoulder straps on the evening bags at issue are more than de minimis, and that the articles are correctly classified under subheading 4202.22.4030, HTSUSA, which provides for travelling bags, toiletry bags, knapsacks and backpacks, handbags, shopping bags, wallets, purses, map cases, cigarette cases, tobacco pouches, tool bags, sports bags, bottle cases, jewelry boxes, powder cases, cutlery cases and similar containers, of leather or of composition leather, of plastic sheeting, of textile materials, of vulcanized fiber or of paperboard, or wholly or mainly covered with such materials: handbags, whether or not with shoulder strap, including those without handle: with outer surface of plastic sheeting or of textile materials: with outer surface of textile materials: wholly or in part of braid: other: other: of man-made fibers, textile category 670, dutiable at the rate of 8.4 percent ad valorem.

In order to assure uniformity in Customs classification of this merchandise and eliminate uncertainty, we are modifying HRL 088314 to reflect the above classification effective with the date of this letter. However, if you disagree with the legal basis for our decision, we invite you to submit any arguments you might have with respect to this matter for our review. Any submission you wish to make should be received within 30 days of the date of this letter.


This notice to you should be considered a modification of Headquarters Ruling Letter 088314 under 19 CFR 177.9(d)(1) (1989). It is not to be applied retroactively to HRL 088314 (19 CFR 177.9(d)(2) (1989)) and will not, therefore, affect the transaction for importation of your client's merchandise under that ruling. However, for the purposes of future transactions in merchandise of this type, including that for which the present classification was requested, HRL 088314 will not be valid precedent. We recognize that pending transactions may be adversely affected by this modification, in that current contracts for importation arriving at a port subsequent to the release of HRL 088314 will be classified under the new ruling. If such a situation arises, your client may, at its discretion, notify this office and apply for relief from the binding effects of the new ruling as may be dictated by the circumstances. However, please be advised that in some instances involving import restraints, such relief may require separate approvals from other government agencies.

The designated textile and apparel category may be subdivided into parts. If so, the 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 your client check, close the time of shipment, the Status Report on Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an issuance of the U.S. Customs Service which is updated weekly and is available for inspection at your local Customs office.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories, your client should contact its local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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