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HQ 950987

April 3, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 950987 ALS


TARIFF NO.: 3924.90.5000

Ms. Diana J. Murphy
Assistant to Vice President
Kerr-Hays Company
P. O. Box 711
Ligonier, PA. 15658

RE: Paperboard Tray Covered with Cotton Fabric and Plastic

Dear Ms. Murphy:

This is in reference to your request of November 19, 1991, to our New York Seaport Area Office for a binding ruling on the subject article. Your request along with the sample tray was referred to this office for further consideration.


The article is a tray composed of paperboard panels which form each of the sides and the bottom of the tray. These panels are encapsulated with a woven cotton backing printed with four leaf clovers and, in turn, with an outer layer of plastic sheeting. The layers are sewn along the edges of each enclosed paperboard panel creating folding joints along each panel and its adjoining panel. The tray's edge is finished with piping and snaps are added at each corner. The tray's components thus form a sandwich in which the paperboard is the innermost and the plastic the outermost portion of the article with the printed cotton material in between the other materials.

The tray, which is rectangular and collapsible, measures 23 cm by 18 cm in its collapsed or unassembled state. In its assembled state with its corners folded and snapped together the tray measures 14.5 cm by 9.5 cm.

The tray is designed for a variety of uses. It can be used to hold jewelry, cosmetics, toiletry items or small sewing items.


What is the classification of a tray composed of paperboard covered by printed woven cotton cloth and, in turn, by plastic sheeting, which is stitched together in such a way that the tray sides can be raised to permit it to hold jewelry, cosmetics, etc.?


Classification of merchandise under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) taken in order. GRI 1 provides that the classification is determined first in accordance with the terms of the headings and any relative section and chapter notes. If GRI 1 fails to classify the goods, and if the heading and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI's are applied taken in order.

In reviewing the heading eligible for classification of the article under consideration, we noted that the components are classifiable in 3 different headings of the HTSUSA. The paperboard is classifiable in heading 4823, the printed woven cotton fabric that covers the paperboard is classifiable in heading 6304 and the plastic sheeting that covers the former components and forms the outermost surface of the article is classifiable heading 3924.

The tray, is designed to hold jewelry, cosmetics, sewing articles as well as toiletry items according to information supplied with the ruling request. It appears that the article can also be used to protect the surface of the furniture, etc. on which the above items might be placed.

There is no specific heading that refers to the article in its entirety. Each of the suggested headings refer to only a part of the article. We, therefore, referred to GRI 3 which, pursuant to GRI 2, provides that goods classifiable under 2 or more headings shall be classified according to the provisions of GRI 3. Although GRI 3(a) provides that the heading with the most specific description shall be preferred to other headings, when 2 or more headings refer to a part only of the materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods, the headings - 3 -
are to be considered as equally specific. We found that to be the case with this article so it could not be classified under that GRI.

We next referred to GRI 3(b) which covers composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components and goods put up in sets for retail sale which cannot be classified by reference to GRI 3(a). GRI 3(b) further provides that such goods are to be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character.

In considering the components of the tray we have concluded that the plastic exterior imparts the essential character of the tray. While the cotton fabric provides decoration to the tray, it does not form its structural frame, its outer surface, nor does it appear to serve any utilitarian purpose other than decoration. Although the paperboard stiffens the tray and enhances the use of the pad for its intended purpose, it would not be practicable to use the paperboard without the plastic covering which protects it. The plastic outer surface, which can be easily wiped, serves as a moisture protector for both the paperboard as well as the surface on which the tray is placed. The integral corner snaps permit the tray to be used in it assembled or stored in its unassembled condition. The absence of the paperboard panels would not alter this capability.


A paperboard tray covered on all of its sides and its bottom with cotton fabric, encapsulated in plastic with integral corner snaps, which permit the sides of the tray to raised and held firmly in place so that it can hold various items, is classifiable in subheading 3924.90.5000, HTSUSA. It is subject to a general rate of duty of 3.4 per cent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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