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HQ 950424

January 28, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 950424 LTO


TARIFF NO.: 8708.29.00

Mr. Thomas R. Collins
General Motors Corporation
General Motors Building
3044 West Grand Boulevard
Detroit, Michigan 48202

RE: Plastic Vehicle Exterior Side and Door Moldings; 3926; EN 87.08; HQ 087542; Note 2(p) to Chapter 39

Dear Mr. Collins:

This is in response to your letter of September 26, 1991, requesting the classification of plastic vehicle exterior side and door moldings under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).


The articles in question are plastic vehicle side and door moldings from Mexico that are placed on the exterior of the bodies of automobiles. You stated that besides imparting a finished look to the automobile body, they protect the body finish from damage from objects striking the body.

The process of making these moldings begins with the blending of a liquid plastic substance (Polyol 120-50) with fiberglass and carbon black paste to form a liquid mixture, which is then pumped into a plastic injection mold where it is mixed with another plastic substance (isocyanate C-1415). This mixture is then injected into the plastic mold, where a chemical reaction causes the mixture to solidify in the mold to the desired shape. The resultant solid is a flexible, fiberglass-reinforced, plastic molding in raw form. The molding is then removed from the mold, and the excess material is trimmed away.

After the trimming operation, the molding must be ovencured
because it lacks proper strength as it is removed from the mold. After the curing operation, the molding is then washed with an acid solution to remove residue from the molding and to ensure proper paint adhesion.

After washing, the molding is prime painted so that it will not decompose in sunlight. Thus, it must be painted before it can be assembled to an automobile body. After prime paint, it is then painted the same color as the color of the automobile to which it will be assembled.


What is the proper classification of the plastic vehicle exterior side and door moldings under the HTSUS?


The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) to the HTSUS govern the classification of goods in the tariff schedule. GRI 1 states in pertinent part that "for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes . . . ."

Heading 3926, HTSUS, provides for "[o]ther articles of plastics . . . ." Subheading 3926.30.50, HTSUS, describes other plastic fittings for furniture, coachwork or the like. However, before discussing the relevance of this heading, it is necessary to look to Note 2(p) to Chapter 39, which states that this chapter does not cover parts of vehicles of section XVII.

Heading 8708, HTSUS, provides for "[p]arts and accessories of the motor vehicles of headings 8701 to 8705." The moldings under consideration are principally used on motor vehicles classified in Heading 8703, HTSUS. Subheading 8708.29.00, HTSUS, describes other parts and accessories of motor vehicle bodies.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (EN) constitute the Customs Co-operation Council's official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding, they provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System, and are thus useful in ascertaining classification under the System. The exemplars listed in EN 87.08, pg. 1432-1433, include articles which form the bodies of vehicles (floor boards, side, front or rear panels, doors, window frames); interior mountings or fittings which are principally designed for use in the operation of the vehicle, or fasteners for such articles (visors, steering column brackets);
articles principally designed for safety purposes (permanently affixed seat belts); interior articles which are not mounted or fitted (floor mats); and exterior mountings, fittings or fasteners, especially those which perform significant utility functions (exterior luggage racks, number plate brackets, wind deflectors). See HQ 087542, dated October 31, 1990.

The side and door moldings are exterior mountings or fittings which perform significant utility functions, similar to exterior luggage racks, number plate brackets or wind deflectors. The moldings, while they impart a finished look to the automobile body, also protect the body finish from damage from objects striking the body, such as another vehicle's door. Thus, while the moldings may serve some ornamental purpose, "they remain in a class or kind of merchandise which is principally used for utility purposes." See HQ 087542.


The side and door moldings are properly classifiable under subheading 8708.29.00, HTSUS, which provides for "[p]arts and accessories of the motor vehicles of headings 8701 to 8705 . . . [o]ther parts and accessories of bodies . . . [o]ther." The corresponding rate of duty for articles of this subheading is 3.1% ad valorem. However, because Mexico is a designated beneficiary developing country, the rate of duty is free if the regulations for the Generalized System of Preferences are met.


John Durant, Director

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