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HQ 557665

February 23, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:S 557665 MLR


TARIFF NO.: 9802.00.80

Mr. Miguel Ruiz
Sig M. Glukstad, Inc.
P.O. Box 523730
Miami, FL 33152-3730

RE: Applicability of partial duty exemption under HTSUS subheading 9802.00.80 to clew knot; hammock; weaving; braiding

Dear Mr. Ruiz:

This is in response to your letter of October 13, 1993, to the U.S. Customs Service in New York requesting a ruling on behalf of Ecotab, Inc., regarding the applicability of subheading 9802.00.80, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), to a "clew knot assembly."


The "clew knot assembly" ("clew knot") is a component of a hammock. Ecotab Inc. plans to ship the components of the clew knot, a roll of rope made of 100 percent cotton or 100 percent polyester and a ring/chain assembly, to Guatemala.

A sheet of plywood arranged with pegs at the bottom, a hook at the top, and a clamp at the bottom left side (referred to as a "clew knot board") is used as a form to make the clew knot. Diagrams of the process are submitted with your ruling request. The ring and chain assembly is hung on the hook, and the free end of the roll of rope is placed in the clamp. The rope is then pulled from the roll and pulled through the ring and wrapped around two pegs forming loops. This process is repeated, working from left to right until all of the pegs are used. The ropes are then clamped with a coat hanger near the ring to keep them from sliding when they are removed from the clew knot board. Each loop is taken off of the pegs, bound together with a rubber band, and immersed in hot wax to keep the ends from fraying when they are cut. After the wax dries, the loop ends are cut, the ring is hung on a hook (possibly the hook on the clew knot board), and the coat hanger and rubber band are removed from the ropes.

Next, each cord that is closest to the clew knot board (i.e., behind the ring) is brought through the corresponding spaces between the cords in front of the ring. The cord at each side is then passed in front of the cords nearest the clew knot board and the cords in front, tightening the knot (i.e., the cords are alternatively crossed forward and backward and pulled through the last one on each side). This process is repeated until there only are two remaining cords. These two cords are tied together in an overhand knot at the bottom of the clew knot.


Whether the "clew knot assembly" will qualify for the partial duty exemption available under subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS, when returned to the U.S.


Subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS, provides a partial duty exemption for:

[a]rticles assembled abroad in whole or in part of fabricated components, the product of the United States, which (a) were exported in condition ready for assembly without further fabrication, (b) have not lost their physical identity in such articles by change in form, shape, or otherwise, and (c) have not been advanced in value or improved in condition abroad except by being assembled and except by operations incidental to the assembly process, such as cleaning, lubricating and painting.

All three requirements of subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS, must be satisfied before a component may receive a duty allowance. An article entered under this tariff provision is subject to duty upon the full appraised value of the imported assembled article, less the cost or value of the U.S. components assembled therein, upon compliance with the documentary requirements of section 10.24, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 10.24).

Section 10.14(a), Customs Regulations {19 CFR 10.14(a)}, states in part that:

[t]he components must be in condition ready for assembly without further fabrication at the time of their exportation from the United States to qualify for the exemption. Components will not lose their entitlement to the exemption by being subjected to operations incidental to the assembly either before, during, or after their assembly with other components.

Section 10.16(a), Customs Regulations {19 CFR 10.16(a)}, provides that the assembly operation performed abroad may consist of any method used to join or fit together solid components, such as welding, soldering, riveting, force fitting, gluing, lamination, sewing, or the use of fasteners.

Operations incidental to the assembly process are not considered further fabrication operations, as they are of a minor nature and cannot always be provided for in advance of the assembly operations. See 19 CFR 10.16(a). However, any significant process, operation or treatment whose primary purpose is the fabrication, completion, physical or chemical improvement of a component precludes the application of the exemption under subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS, to that component. See 19 CFR 10.16(c).

In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 555475 dated November 3, 1989, we held that ribbon cut to length, wrapped twice around the middle of a coat hanger bar and base of a hanger hook, and knotted into a bow qualified as an assembly operation or operation incidental to assembly because the bow formation process involved the joinder of two or more components and the ribbon's bow shape was secured by wrapping and knotting the ribbon to the hanger. However, in HRL 555594 dated May 16, 1990, we considered nets made by knotting twines together on a net loom. The operations involved hooks picking up the twines on spools at the top of the net loom, which twisted and pulled them into loops, and passing twines on bobbins at the bottom of the net loom through the loops to create knots. This process was repeated until a net was formed. We held that while the knotting operation served to join the twines together where they crossed one another, it also formed a network of knots in a pattern to create the net. In the sense that the netting operation formed a fabric or an article made of such fabric, it was determined to be analogous to a weaving operation. Customs has consistently held that weaving processes used to manufacture fabrics is not regarded as an assembly operation. See HRL 038196 dated January 20, 1975; see also HRL 039351 dated April 16, 1975. Therefore, the creation of the nets was determined to be a manufacturing process rather than a mere assembly, thereby precluding them from the partial duty exemption under subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS.

Furthermore, in HRL 059671 dated August 23, 1978, we held that yarn woven into a hammock in El Salvador constituted a further fabrication of the yarn and exceeded the scope of an assembly for purposes of item 807.00, Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS) (now subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS). We have also held that processes similar to weaving do not constitute acceptable assembly operations under subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS. See HRL 556627 dated June 3, 1992, where we held that leather braided into belts in Mexico did not constitute an acceptable assembly operation under subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS. In the instant case, while the operation of pulling the rope through the ring has the same result as wrapping the ribbon around the coat hanger in HRL 555475, the rope is also wrapped around the pegs to create loops which are later cut so that the cords may be crossed together to form the clew knot. We find that this alternating forward and backward operation is similar to braiding. It is, therefore, our opinion that the clew knot does not qualify for the partial duty exemption under subheading 9802.00.80, HTSUS.


On the basis of the information submitted, it is our opinion that wrapping the rope around pegs to form loops which are cut so that they may be braided to form a clew knot is not an acceptable assembly operation, but rather is a further fabrication of the exported rope. Therefore, the U.S. rope will not qualify for the partial duty exemption under 9802.00.80, HTSUS.


John Durant, Director

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