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HQ 085108

September 20, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 085108 KWM


TARIFF NO.: 4202.39.0000

Mr. Chuck Huettner
J.W. Hampton, Jr. & Co., Inc.
15 Park Row
New York, New York 10038

RE: Tariff classification of pencil pouches imported by F.W. Woolworth Co.

Dear Mr. Huettner,

Your letter of June 15, 1989, submitted to our New York office, requesting a classification ruling, has been forwarded to this office for a ruling.


You have requested a classification ruling for items referred to in your letter as "PVC pencil pouches" to be imported from China. Two samples were submitted with your request. One sample is approximately 2 inches x 7+ inches x 1+ inches; the other is approximately 3+ inches x 9 inches x 1, inches. Both samples have zippered openings along the top. On one sample, a looped strap is attached to the zipper pull mechanism. On the other, a looped cord has been threaded through a grommet on the side of the case and knotted on the inside.

The samples are constructed of non-cellular plastic to which a woven textile backing of cotton or man-made fiber has been applied. The backing is not easily separable from the non- cellular coating. It is our opinion that the textile backing is for reinforcement purposes. One sample is printed with a graphic design, and the other is printed with a pictorial design. Tags attached to each sample identifies them as "pencil cases".


What is the proper classification for these goods under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated?


Classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (hereinafter "HTSUSA") is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (hereinafter "GRI's") 1 through 5, and the United States Rules of Interpretation. GRI 1 provides that classification is determined first according to the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative section or chapter notes, and then, if the headings and chapter notes do not require otherwise, in accordance with the remaining GRI's.

Subheading 4202.31 HTSUSA includes, among other goods delineated in the heading language,

"Trunks,. . .briefcases, school satchels, . . . handbags,. . .and similar containers . . .of plastic sheeting, of textile materials, of vulcanized fiber or of paperboard, or wholly or mainly covered with such materials: Articles of a kind normally carried in the pocket or the handbag."

The samples which you have submitted would, in the opinion of this office, fall within this heading. While you have referred to the looped straps as "wrist straps", we have determined that the ordinary use of these items would not involve wearing them on the wrist, but as a pouch or pocket to be carried inside a handbag or other container. The size and awkward manner in which the item hangs off the wrist, thereby limiting use and movement of the hands, were considerations in our decision.

In determining classification here, it is necessary to determine whether the items are constructed of materials "with outer surface of plastic sheeting or of textile materials" under subheading 4202.32, HTSUSA, or of "Other" material under heading 4202.39, HTSUSA. To make this distinction, it is necessary to determine what constitutes these materials for tariff purposes.

As indicated previously, the goods submitted with the request are constructed of a non-cellular plastic material backed by a woven textile. To be classified under subheading 4202.32 HTSUSA, goods must meet both the "outer surface" and "plastic sheeting" terms of that subheading. To determine the meaning of the expression "outer surface", it is appropriate to look to the dictionary definitions of those terms. Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary (1984) defines "outer" as:
outer (adj.) 1. Located on the outside: EXTERNAL. 2. Farther from the center or middle.

The term "surface" is defined as:
surface (n.) 1.a. The exterior face of an object. b. A material layer constituting such an exterior face.

The expression "outer surface", then, means that surface which is both visible and tactile. An examination of the goods submitted shows that it is the "outer surface" which is composed of non- cellular plastic material.

Having determined that such plastic material composes the "outer surface", it must comply with the definition of "plastic sheeting" as that term is defined by the tariff schedule. In this case, it is our opinion, based upon inspection of the samples, that the material used in construction of these goods is made from a plate, sheet, or strip of non-cellular plastic combined with a textile fabric which is present merely for reinforcing purposes. In short, the material is a combination of noncellular plastic and woven textile. However, it is also our opinion that such material does not comply with the definition of "plastic sheeting" under subheading 4202.32, HTSUSA, for the reasons articulated below.

"Plastics and Articles thereof" are classified in Chapter 39, HTSUSA. Legal Note 2(1) to Chapter 39, HTSUSA, states:

2. This chapter does not cover:

(l) Goods of section XI (textiles and textile articles);

The Legal Notes to Section XI - Textiles, HTSUSA, provide that:

1. This section does not cover:

(h) Woven, knitted or crocheted fabrics, felt or nonwovens, impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with plastics, or articles thereof, of Chapter 39;

The effect of these provisions in the chapter and section notes is to place within the scope of Chapter 39 those goods which are considered plastics, as that Chapter defines them, and to include those materials regarded as textile materials in Section XI (including Chapter 59). When articles are composed of combinations of plastics and textiles, the notes to the respective chapters define which goods fall within Chapter 39 and which fall within Chapter 59. The Explanatory Notes to Chapter 39, HTSUSA, relating to plastics and textile combinations, provide, in pertinent part:

. . . Otherwise, the classification of plastics and textile combinations is essentially governed by Note 1(h) to Section XI, Note 3 to Chapter 56 and Note 2 to Chapter 59. The following products are also covered by this chapter:. . .

(d) Plates, sheets,and strip plastics combined with textile fabrics, felt or nonwovens, where the textile is present merely for reinforcing purposes.

Legal Note 2 to Chapter 59, HTSUSA, provides in pertinent part that:

2. Heading 5903 applies to:

(a) textile fabrics, impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with plastics, whatever the weight per square meter and whatever the nature of the plastic material (compact or cellular), other than: . . .

5. Plates, sheets or strip of cellular plastics combined with textile fabric, where the textile fabric is present merely for reinforcing purposes.
(Emphasis added).

The samples submitted in this case require careful examination to classify them correctly. They are constructed of "plates, sheets or strips" of plastic where the textile fabric is present merely for reinforcing purposes. As such, they would appear to fall within the class of goods excluded from Chapter 59, HTSUSA, and included in Chapter 39, HTSUSA, by Legal Note 2, set forth above. However, the note specifically provides that such "plates, sheets or strips" be of cellular plastics. The plastics used in the construction of the instant goods are noncellular plastics, and therefore do not meet the requirements of Legal Note 2, above.

This office has previously determined that the expression "plastic sheeting" as used in subheading 4202.32, HTSUSA, applies to goods constructed of material classified under Chapter 39, HTSUSA; i.e., plates, sheets, or strips of cellular plastics combined with textile fabric, where the textile fabric is present merely for reinforcing purposes. Having determined that the goods submitted do not have an outer surface of plastic sheeting, for the reasons stated above, they cannot be classified under subheading 4204.32, HTSUSA. Therefore, they are classified under subheading 4202.39, HTSUSA - Articles of a kind normally carried in the pocket or in the handbag; Other. This classification is made in accordance with GRI 1, since subheading 4202.39, HTSUSA, by its terms and by the terms of the relevant section and chapter notes, includes goods of this type.


It is the opinion of this office that the good submitted, referred to as "pencil pouches", are properly classified under subheading 4202.39.0000, HTSUSA, as articles of a kind normally carried in the pocket or in the handbag; Other, and dutiable at the rate of 20 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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