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HQ 951905

January 6, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 951905 SK


TARIFF NO.: 4202.32.1000

Donna L. Shira
Sharretts, Paley, Carter & Blauvelt, P.C. 67 Broad Street
New York, N.Y. 10004

RE: Modification of HRL 084929 (8/22/89); flat goods; goods carried in the pocket or handbag; plastic sheeting; outer surface of reinforced or laminated plastics; HRL 950983 (6/15/92); HRL 950567 (3/2/92); HRL 950048 (3/2/92).

Dear Ms. Shira:

On August 22, 1989, this office issued your client, Warnaco, Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 084929, which classified Christian Dior flat goods. Upon review, we find that ruling to be in error and HRL 084929 is modified accordingly. Our analysis follows.


The subject merchandise in HRL 084929 consisted of wallets, key cases, checkbook holders, and similar accessories (collectively known as "flat goods"), manufactured from a fabric- backed cellular plastic material. These articles were classified in HRL 084929 as articles of the kind normally carried in the pocket or handbag, with outer surface of plastic sheeting, other, under subheading 4202.32.2000, HTSUSA.


Is the subject merchandise "of reinforced or laminated plastics" such that they are classifiable in subheading 4202.32.1000 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA)?


There is no question that the articles at issue are classifiable under subheading 4202.32, HTSUSA, as these articles are all "of the kind normally carried in the pocket or handbag" and all have "outer surfaces of plastic." The determinative issue is whether these articles are "of reinforced or laminated plastics" so that they are properly classifiable under subheading 4202.32.1000, HTSUSA.

Under the Tariff Schedules of the United States Annotated (TSUSA), predecessor to the HTSUSA, the provision for reinforced or laminated plastics was governed by headnote 2, Subpart A, Part 12, Schedule 7, which defined the term "reinforced or laminated" to mean rigid plastics. No such definition was carried over to the HTSUSA.

As was set forth in Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 950048, dated March 2, 1992, it has been charged that Congress knowingly refrained from providing a definition for the phrase "of reinforced or laminated plastics," intending that the TSUSA definition would be continued. Conversely, it may be argued that Congress purposely did not carry over this definition, intending that a new definition be used. As Congress' legislative intent is unclear, Customs is unwilling to make a conclusive determination on this matter.

It is well established that where the language of a statute is transparent and its meaning clear, there is no room for the office of construction. Lewis, Trustee v. United States, 92 U.S. 618, L.Ed. 513 (1876). As a matter of law, Customs is of the opinion that the meaning of subheading provision 4202.32.1000, HTSUSA, is clear and can be found within the HTSUSA as set forth below.

In HRL 950048, this office determined that articles carried in the pocket or handbag, and having an outer surface of plastic sheeting, would be considered "of reinforced or laminated plastics" as described in subheading 4202.32.1000, HTSUSA, if the piece goods from which the articles were cut were considered a sheet of reinforced or laminated plastics of Chapter 39, HTSUSA. Citing the General Explanatory Note, Chapter 39, we stated:

Note that ... only cellular plastic sheets, etc. (sic) combined with textiles merely for reinforcing purposes, are included [in Chapter 39]. Noncellular plastic sheets combined with textile (sic) merely for reinforcing purposes, and all plastic sheets combined with textiles for purposes other than reinforcing, remain classified in Chapter 59, HTSUSA).

As all of the articles at issue are manufactured of textile- backed cellular plastics, they are deemed "reinforced or laminated plastics" of Chapter 39, pursuant to HRL 950048.

As set forth supra, the articles at issue are deemed constructed of reinforced or laminated plastic and are therefore classifiable under subheading 4202.32.1000, HTSUSA. This position was earlier established by Customs in HRL 950983, dated June 15, 1992, which affirmed HRL 950567 and HRL 950048, and constitutes Customs' view with regard to the interpretation of the phrase "of reinforced or laminated plastics" for the purposes of heading 4202, HTSUSA.


HRL 084929 is modified pursuant to 19 CFR 177.9(d)(1).

The subject merchandise of HRL 084929 is classifiable under subheading 4202.32.1000, HTSUSA, under the provision for articles of a kind normally carried in the pocket or in the handbag: with outer surface of plastic sheeting or of textile materials: with outer surface of plastic sheeting: of reinforced or laminated plastics. They are dutiable at the rate of 12.1 cents per kilogram plus 4.6 percent ad valorem.

In order to ensure uniformity in Customs' classification of this merchandise and eliminate uncertainty, pursuant to section 177.9(d)(1), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 177.9(d)(1), HRL 084929 is modified to reflect the above classification effective with the date of this letter. If, after your review, you disagree with the legal basis for our decision, we invite you to submit any arguments you may have with respect to this matter. Any submission you wish to make should be received within 30 days of the date of this letter.

This modification is not retroactive. However, HRL 084929 will not be valid for importations of the subject merchandise arriving in the United States after the date of this notice. We recognize that pending transactions may be adversely affected (i.e., merchandise previously ordered and arriving in the United States subsequent to this modification will be classified accordingly). If it can be shown that you relied on HRL 084929 to your detriment, you may apply to this office for relief. However, you should be aware that in some instances involving import restraints, such relief may require separate approvals from other agencies.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification), and the restraint (quota/visa) categories if applicable, your client should contact its local Customs office prior to importing the merchandise to determine the current applicability of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director

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