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HQ 088367

November 1, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 088367 KWM


TARIFF NO.: 6217.90.0060

Mr. Anthony L. Russo
Acting Assistant District Director
Commercial Operations
United States Customs Service
77 SE. 5th Street
Miami, Florida 33131

RE: Application for further review of protest number 5201-89-000484; Men's pants parts; Unassembled pants; Oxford Industries.

Dear Mr. Russo:

This application for further review was filed against your decision to liquidate the merchandise in four separate entries as unassembled men's pants at a duty rate of 29.7 percent ad valorem. After careful consideration, we find that the protest should be allowed for the following reasons.


The merchandise at issue in each of the contested entries is the same: cut pieces of textile material which will be used to manufacture men's pants. The invoice accompanying the entries described the goods as follows:

647, CUT 0239-A

The description also included a unique style number reference, depending on the merchandise in each shipment. No further description of the goods was provided. The importer asserts that the "parts" are to be assembled into completed trousers after importation into the United States. The assembly process was described by the importer as ". . . more than a simple assembly operation."

The goods were entered under subheading 6217.90.0060 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUSA), as parts of trousers of man-made fibers. U.S. Customs at the Port of Miami liquidated the goods under subheading 6203.43.4010, HTSUSA, as unassembled men's trousers. A protest was timely filed and this application for further review followed.

After the documentation for this case was forwarded to Customs Headquarters for review, counsel for the importer submitted additional information regarding the "parts" being imported, the additional materials supplied in the United States, and the domestic manufacturing process.


Is the merchandise considered "unassembled trousers" or "parts for trousers"?


Classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (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.

Counsel for the importer suggests that heading 6217, HTSUSA, specifically includes this merchandise. That heading provides for:

6217 Other made up clothing accessories; parts of garments or of clothing accessories, other than those of heading 6212:

Emphasis added. The protest documents include a submission by counsel in which they contend that the classification given the merchandise by Customs is "erroneously . . . based on the invoice description" and that the goods are more properly described as parts of garments, specifically trousers.

"Parts" are not defined under the international headings of the HTSUSA. The definition in Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(c) is not binding at the four-digit heading level. In general, however, parts are regarded as items used solely or principally with an article. In other words, a part must be combined with another item(s); it is a constituent or component element without which the article to which it is joined could not function. A part must also be identifiable by shape or other characteristic(s) as an article used solely or principally as a part.

The additional submission by counsel indicates to us that the merchandise at issue here falls within the definition of "parts." However, the merchandise may also be described by other headings. If so, GRI 3 requires that classification be made in the heading which provides the most specific description.

Customs in Miami considered the goods classifiable as unassembled trousers, based on the plain language of the invoices which accompanied the entry documents. The port's classified the cut pieces under an eo nomine provision because they were imported as "incomplete" and "unassembled" goods. We note, as did Customs officials at the port, that no positive assertion was made to the effect that these were not unassembled pants as invoiced. However, based on additional information not available at liquidation, we find that the merchandise is neither "incomplete" goods nor "unassembled" within the scope of GRI 2. First, incomplete articles may be considered complete for classification purposes if they have the essential character of the finished article." The instant textile pieces do not have the character of trousers. They are merely textile cut to shape and devoted to manufacture into trousers, but they do not possess the character of trousers. They are identifiable as trouser parts, but not as trousers. They may not be "worn" nor may they be finished by a minor operation.

Second, the trouser pieces are not unassembled trousers. Customs does not require that all the pieces be present before we classify merchandise as "unassembled", but the term does imply that a sufficient number or type of elements be present to constitute a substantially complete but unfinished product. The Explanatory Notes to GRI 2 indicate that unassembled articles may be assembled by means of "simple fixing devices . . . provided only simple assembly operations are involved." We find, based on the submissions provided, that the sewing and assembly operations contemplated in this case are beyond the scope anticipated by the GRI 2 Explanatory Notes. A significant number of additional pieces or parts must be provided in the United States before the completed trousers may be assembled, among them the pockets, the waist band, the zipper and the thread. In fact, it would appear that all of the parts not cut from the primary color fabric are supplied domestically. After these parts are included, an assembly operation which constitutes 35 percent of the cost of the completed trousers is performed. According to counsel, the assembly requires a high level of skill and is not considered "simple assembly."

Based on the information provided, we find that the merchandise at issue is not incomplete or unassembled trousers. It is properly classified under the heading for parts of trousers.

Although we find here that the protest should be allowed, and the merchandise classified as parts of trousers, we note that the plain language of the invoice suggests that these are "unassembled trousers." Inasmuch as the Customs Service relies on the entry documentation provided by importers and their brokers, specifically commercial invoices, for classifying merchandise, the liquidation as unassembled trousers is understandable. Section 174.24 of the Customs Regulations states that an application for further review may be approved if the protesting party alleges additional facts which were not considered at the time the original decision was made. Such is the case here; our finding is premised specifically on the additional information provided by protestant's counsel. We note however, that this merchandise would have been classified properly (and the prolonged protest process avoided) if the invoice had accurately reflected the condition of the merchandise.


The protest should be allowed. The merchandise described "unassembled trousers" but consisting simply of 14 cut textile pieces used in the manufacture of men's trousers, are classified in subheading 6217.90.0060, HTSUSA, as parts of garments, specifically parts of trousers of man-made fibers.

A copy of this ruling should be attached to the Customs Form 19 notice of action to be forwarded to the protestant.


John A. Durant, Director

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