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HQ 951172

September 4, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 951172 CRS


TARIFF NO.: 5603.00.9070

R. Kevin Williams
Sonnenberg, Anderson, O'Donnell & Rodriguez 200 South Wacker Drive
33rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60606

RE: Request for reconsideration of HRL 089360; aramid fibers; tow; nonwovens; strip; extrusion; HRL 089360 affirmed.

Dear Mr. Williams:

This is in reply to your letter dated February 10, 1992, on behalf of Mitsuboshi Belting, Ltd., requesting reconsideration of Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 089360 dated July 30, 1991. A meeting to discuss this matter was held at Customs Headquarters on April 16, 1992. Our decision follows below.


The merchandise in question consists of strands or "strips" of aramid fibers coated with rubber. The individual strands are made by cutting nonwoven material into 3 mm wide "strips." The material from which the "strips" are cut is made by melt spinning aramid fibers and drawing them to create tow. The drawn tow is spread to a width of 200 mm, immersed in a rubber solution, and passed through a heating chamber. As a result of this process, the aramid fibers are bound together in 200 mm "strips" which are then cut into 3 mm "strips" to produce the merchandise at issue.


The issue presented is whether nonwoven material that is cut into "strips" 3 mm in width is classifiable as strip of synthetic textile material or under the provision for nonwoven filaments as held in HRL 089360.


Two headings are relevant for the purposes of this ruling: heading 5603, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), which provides for nonwovens, whether or not impregnated, coated, covered or laminated; and heading 5404, HTSUSA, which provides, inter alia, for strip and the like of synthetic textile materials.

In HRL 089360 we stated that the process by which the subject merchandise was manufactured was characteristic of that used to produce nonwovens and that, consequently, the "strips" at issue were classifiable in heading 5603. In your letter of February 10th you acknowledge that "[t]he 200 mm wide strip would fall within the definition of a nonwoven since it is a 'web ... of textile fibers oriented directionally ... and bonded.'" When this material is cut into strips 3 mm in width, however, you contend that it loses the character of a nonwoven of heading 5603 and assumes that of strip of heading 5404. As to whether strip of heading 5404 may be so derived we look first to the legal notes to Chapter 54 and Section XI; however, as these are silent, we turn to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes for guidance.

The Explanatory Notes comprise the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level (four and six digits). Although they are not legally binding, Customs accords the Explanatory Notes substantial weight in construing the terms of the headings and subheadings at the international level of the HTSUSA. The Explanatory Note (EN) to heading 5404 defines "strip and the like of synthetic textile materials" as being "flat, of a width not exceeding 5 mm, either produced as such by extrusion or cut from wider strips or from sheets." EN 54.04(2), 754. The merchandise in question was not extruded as strip; accordingly, it is only classifiable as strip if it was either "cut from wider strips or from sheets." Nevertheless, in Customs' view, both wider strips and sheets must themselves be extruded. HRL 089360 at 5. The instant merchandise was made by chemically bonding filament tow to form a nonwoven material. Subsequently, the nonwoven material was cut into strands or "strips" 3 mm wide to produce the merchandise at issue.

The fact that the instant nonwoven "strips" are cut into 3 mm wide sections does not transform them into strip of heading 5404, any more than the cutting of a woven fabric into "strips" measuring less than 5 mm in width would result in that merchandise being classified in heading 5404. For example, "strips" of woven fabric, unless provided with selvedges on both edges, would be classifiable in the appropriate provision for woven fabric. Similarly, nonwoven material cut into "strips" remains classifiable as a nonwoven of heading 5603.


The merchandise in question is classifiable in subheading 5603.00.9070, HTSUSA, under the provision for nonwovens, whether or not impregnated, coated, covered or laminated, of filaments. It is dutiable at the rate of 12.5 percent ad valorem and is subject to textile category 223.

Pursuant to the foregoing, HRL 089360 dated July 30, 1991, is affirmed.

The designated textile category may be subdivided into parts. If so, visa and quota requirements applicable to the subject merchandise may be affected. Since part categories are the result of international bilateral agreements which are subject to frequent renegotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available, we suggest that your client check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report on Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an internal issuance of the U.S. Customs Service, which is available for inspection at your local Customs office.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories, you should contact your local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


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