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HQ 085840

July 25, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 085840 KWM


TARIFF: 6815.99.4000

Mr. H. Perlman
Skylark International
29 John Street
New York, New York 10038

RE: Modification of NYRL 845565; Compressed Gasket Material; Asbestos replacement; Aramid fibers; Nonwoven textiles; Mineral fillers; Composite gasket material.

Dear Mr. Perlman:

This letter is in response to your inquiry dated October 17, 1989, in which you request reconsideration of a classification ruling issued by our New York office. After reviewing the information submitted with your request we have determined that the New York Ruling Letter (NYRL) issued to you, number 845565, should be revoked and the goods in question reclassified.


The merchandise at issue here is a compressed gasketing material developed as a substitute for asbestos based gaskets. The manufacturing process is described in detail in NYRL 845565. It involves mixing rubber paste, aramid fibers, and a mineral filler material to form a crumbly substance. The combined substance is placed in hoppers which in turn feed into compression rollers set to produce the desired thickness of gasket material. The gasketing material is imported into the United States from Spain in sheet form, uncut, and printed with the manufacturer's and/or product name. According to your letter, the component materials of the gasket material break down as follows:

5 - 20% Aramid fibers
10 - 20% Natural or synthetic rubber
60 - 85% Barium sulphate

Your letter of October 17, 1989, takes issue with our classification of these goods as nonwoven textile materials under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). In support of your position, additional information is provided about the product and its process of manufacture. Lastly, your letter suggests that the proper classification for these goods would be under a heading of Chapter 40, HTSUSA, as an article of rubber.


Was the compressed gasketing material properly classified in New York Ruling Letter 845565? If not, what is the correct classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated?


Classification under the HTSUSA is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). The systematic detail of the harmonized system is such that virtually all goods are classified by application of GRI 1, that is, according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relevant Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI's may be applied, taken in order.

The original classification of this material was made by applying GRI 1. It was the opinion of our New York office that the gasketing material consisted of a nonwoven textile immeshed in rubber. We disagree. First, heading 5603 presupposes the existence of a base textile onto which rubber may be applied or coated. In this case that base would be a nonwoven textile. Nonwoven textiles are described in the Explanatory Notes to Chapter 56, HTSUSA, as "a sheet or web of predominantly textile fibers oriented directionally or randomly and bonded." The production of nonwoven textile includes web formation, bonding and finishing stages. These stages may occur separately or simultaneously, as in the in situ process. We believe that no web is ever formed in this product, hence no base textile fabric is present. The length of the aramid fibers (less than 5 millimeters) precludes the formation of a web as the nomenclature contemplates. Instead, the fibers in the instant gasket material are simply dispersed in random fashion throughout the rubber and mineral substances for strength and thermal resistance.

Other than heading 5603, HTSUSA, we note heading 5911 which provides for textile products for technical uses. The goods of this heading are specified in a Legal Note to the chapter and include:

7. (a)(i) Textile fabrics . . . coated, covered or laminated with rubber . . . or other material . . . used for technical purposes.

This would appear to include the instant goods, but for the conclusion above that no base textile fabric (i.e., nonwoven textile) is present here. We find no other heading of the nomenclature eligible for GRI 1 classification. Those headings which provide for "gaskets" by name are limited to cut or formed gaskets, and do not include sheet material such as this from which gaskets are made.

The gasket material here is a composite good; that is, it is composed of two or more constituent ingredients which combine to produce the whole. Articles "of" the components are described in different HTSUSA headings:

4008 Plates, sheets, strip, rods and profile shapes, of vulcanised rubber other than hard rubber.

6815 Articles of stone or of other mineral substances, not elsewhere specified or included.

The GRI's dictate that classification of goods such as these is made by determining which of the constituent materials provides the "essential character" of the item. There are no "hard and fast" rules for determining essential character. It may be determined by considering and weighing factors such as relative weight, relative cost, and the role played by each element in the item. For the purposes of the HTSUSA, an item may be considered to be wholly made of a particular element if that element is found to convey the essential character.

Each of the component materials here provides some element necessary to the use of the goods. The aramid fiber and mineral filler combination is intended to duplicate the performance characteristics of asbestos, which they replace. Thus, the qualities of strength, thermal and chemical resistance, and binding are derived not from either single component, but from the combination of the two. Aramid fiber, being the technologically advanced element is given first billing in marketing the product. Rubber provides compressibility, sealing and binding qualities, as it did in older asbestos gasket material.

We do not find that any individual element here provides the essential character of the goods. Therefore, we resort to GRI 3(c) for classification of these goods. Under GRI 3(c), that heading which occurs last in the nomenclature provides classification. In this case, that would be heading 6815, which provides for articles made of other mineral substances, not otherwise provided for.


Pursuant to 19 CFR 177.9(d), New York Ruling Letter 845565 is hereby revoked. The merchandise at issue in NYRL 845565, composite gasket material, is classified in subheading 6815.99.4000, HTSUSA, as articles of mineral substance, not otherwise specified. The rate of duty is 4.5 percent ad valorem.


John A. Durant
Commercial Rulings Division

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