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HQ 950038

May 26, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 950038 KWM

TARIFF No.: 6815.99.4000


Mr. Tony Borowiecki
John V. Carr & Sons, Corp.
P.O. Box 4839
Syracuse, New York 13221-4839

RE: TBA Industrial Products Ltd.; Insulating materials; Aramid fiber; Articles of rubber; Textile materials for technical uses; Other articles of mineral substances.

Dear Mr. Borowiecki:

This is in reference to your letter dated June 20, 1991, regarding the tariff classification of merchandise referred to as aramid fiber insulating materials. Our response follows.


The merchandise at issue is a sheet of material measuring 60 inches by 60 inches by 1/16 inch, and designated by the manufacturer as "XJ 258 - Aramid Sheet." Your letter indicates that the material is used for "sound and vibration insulation in a variety of industrial mechanical and automotive applications." Your letter also provided the following breakdown of component materials as follows:

Comparison by weight:

Nitrile Rubber (NBR) 25%
Aramid fibre 8
Silica 22
Mica 26
China Clay 17

Curing agents
Pigment 2

Comparison by value:

Nitrile Rubber (NBR) 21%
Aramid fibre 65

China Clay 12

Curing agents
Pigment 2

With regard to the silica, mica and china clay components, you indicate these are inert fillers. Lastly, you believe that the product should be classified in subheading 4008.21.0000, HTSUSA, as sheets of noncellular rubber, based on the weight and chief use of the product. Specifically, you believe that the nitrile rubber gives the material surface texture, flexibility and the necessary resiliency.


Are the sheets classified as sheets of noncellular rubber in subheading 4008.21.0000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States, or are they classified elsewhere in the nomenclature?


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.

We do not agree that the sheets at issue are classified in subheading 4008.21.0000, HTSUSA. It would appear from your reliance on weight, chief use, and the components' characteristics that you believe the essential character of the article is that of the nitrile rubber. However, before we find the product's essential character all eligible headings must be considered for classification by GRI 1.

Rubber and textile combinations are normally classified according to Note 1(ij) to Section XI, Note 3 to Chapter 56 and Note 4 to Chapter 59, HTSUSA. However, such notes apply to textile fabrics (woven, knitted or crocheted), felts and nonwovens. Customs experience with similar products has been that the aramid fibers do not comprise a textile fabric, felt or nonwoven. Therefore, the provisions of the notes are not applicable. We find no other headings which may be eligible for classification by GRI 1. The aramid and rubber sheets cannot be classified by GRI 1.

Instead, the instant material is considered a composite article and must be classified according to GRI 3. The sheets are composed of three primary materials: the rubber, the aramid fiber and the mineral substances. Each imparts some characteristic to the use and function of the material. You assert that the weight and chief use of the product indicate classification as rubber, and that key characteristics of the finished product are those of the rubber. Customs experience with similar materials indicates to us that it is the combination which produces specific types of material, each with specific performance characteristics for specific uses. Further, each of the three materials contributes a significant portion of both the weight and value of the material. We find no heading which provides for articles of aramid fiber; it therefore eliminated from consideration. The remaining eligible headings provide for sheets of rubber (4008, HTSUSA) and articles of mineral substances (6815, HTSUSA). Because no single element clearly establishes the essential character of the article we have applied GRI 3(c), and classified the product under that heading which occurs last in the nomenclature.


The subject merchandise, sheets of aramid fiber, rubber and mineral substances, is classified in subheading 6815.99.4000, HTSUSA, as articles of mineral substances, not otherwise specified or included. The applicable rate of duty is 4.5 percent ad valorem.


John A. Durant,

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