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HQ 952171

April 19, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 952171 ALS


TARIFF NO.: 4012.90.5000

Chief, Customs Information Exchange
New York Seaport Area
6 World Trade Center
Room 450
New York, New York 10048-0945

RE: Request for Advice on the Classification of Rubber Tire Tread Material from Mexico, CIE T3900078255

Dear Mr. Mitchell:

This is in reference to an undated memorandum from the Chief, National Import Specialist Branch 3, New York Seaport, received in this office on July 10, 1992. The memorandum concerns a difference of opinion as to the tariff classification of rubber tire tread material from Mexico.


The product under consideration is rubber tire tread material imported on rolls, approximately 20 feet long and 8 inches wide. The surface is molded into an intricate shape to give traction.


What is the proper classification of rubber tire tread material imported on rolls?


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 heading 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 this case we have a difference of opinion between the National Import Specialist (NIS) and the field import specialist (FIS) at Laredo, Texas. The NIS has classified the product in subheading 4016.99.5050, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), which provides for other articles of vulcanized rubber other than hard rubber, other. The FIS at Laredo, Texas, believes the material should be classified in subheading 4008.21.0000, HTSUSA, which provides for sheets of noncellular rubber.

We considered the arguments put forth by the aforementioned Customs officers in support of their positions. These arguments, while meritorious, are premised on the presumption that there is no HTSUSA provision which specifically covers the article under consideration.

In reviewing the possible headings which might be applicable to the instant product, we considered both heading 4008 and heading 4016, HTSUSA. While both headings have relevance to the classification of the rolls of tire tread material, neither heading specifically covers the product.

We considered other possible headings that might be applicable to the instant product. In this regard we noted heading 4012, HTSUSA, which covers "[R]etreaded or used pneumatic tires of rubber;...interchangeable tire treads...of rubber." It appeared that the term "interchangeable tire treads" might be a British term referring to tire retread material. We, however, were unable to obtain an interpretation of that term from U.S. sources.

We next consulted with Her Majesty's Customs and Excise (UK Customs). The appropriate authorities in UK Customs indicated that they were not familiar with the term and suggested that we might wish to discuss the matter with the British Rubber Manufacturers' Association Ltd. which UK Customs uses as an authoritative information source on matters concerning rubber products. The Director of such organization advised us that the interchangeable tire treads is not a British term and that the British use the same terminology for the product as we do. He, however, after contact with local sources, was able to advise use that stated that " `interchangeable tire treads' is the term used
to describe pre-cured treads which are then fitted by adhesive, etc. to a used tyre carcase suitably prepared for this purpose." He noted that "[M]ost retreads are manufactured by applying an uncured tread to a prepared used tyre carcase and then the curing of the tread takes place by moulding the complete carcase and uncured tread."

We next consulted the American Retreaders Association. Their representative advised us that interchangeable tire treads was not an industry term and that while certain special use tires have tread which is bolted onto a tire casing (carcass) and might be considered as interchangeable, this was not generally true. He described two retreading processes, one cementing pre-cured tire tread onto a tire casing and one applying uncured tire tread onto a tire casing through a vulcanization process. He indicated that the sample retread material fell within the pre-cured tire tread process.

We believe that the information provided by the above sources clarifies the term "interchangeable tire treads" and confirms that the product under consideration is properly classifiable in heading 4012 which also covers retreaded or used pneumatic tires.


Tire tread material imported on rolls which is applied to tire casings (carcasses) subsequent to importation is classifiable in subheading 4012.90.5000, HTSUSA, the provision for retreaded or used pneumatic tires of rubber..., Other, Other. Such product is subject to a general rate of duty of 5.3 percent ad valorem.

Such material, if the product of Mexico, which meets the requirements of General Note 3(a)(ii) of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated, regarding the General System of Preferences (GSP), is eligible for a free special rate of duty upon compliance with the provisions of section 10.171 et seq., Customs Regulations (19 CFR 10.171 et seq.).


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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