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HQ 954825

December 8, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 954825 SK


TARIFF NO.: 5407.60.2035

District Director
U.S. Customs Service
4430 E. Adamo, ste. 301
Tampa, Florida 33605

RE: Decision on Application for Further Review of Protest No. 1803- 93-100002; classification of "coated fabric"; visible to the naked eye prerequisite of Chapter Note 2(a)(1) to Chapter 59; subheading 5407.60.2035, HTSUSA; 600 denier woven polyester fabric with polyurethane coating.

Dear Madam:

This is a decision on application for further review of a protest timely filed on December 24, 1992, by Paul E. Linet on behalf of his client, American Tourister, against your decision regarding the classification of coated fabric imported from Taiwan. Two entries of the subject merchandise were made at the port of Jacksonville on April 20, 1992, and July 22, 1992. A sample of the subject fabric has been submitted to this office for examination.


The merchandise at issue, referenced American Tourister Part Number 40022-0440, consists of 600 D woven polyester fabric coated with clear polyurethane. Independent lab analysis procurred by the protestant states that the coated fabric weighs 221 grams per square meter and is comprised of 17.2 percent polyurethane coating by weight.

Protestant states that this merchandise is properly classified under subheading 5903.20.2500, HTSUSA, as "textile fabrics, impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with plastics ... ." Note 2(a)(1) to Chapter 59, HTSUSA, states that heading 5903 will govern the classification of a coated fabric so long as the impregnation, coating or covering can be seen with the naked eye with no account being taken of a resulting change in color.

Customs' position is that classification of this fabric is proper under subheading 5407.60.2035, HTSUSA, as uncoated fabric. This classification is predicated on the Port Director's position that the clear plastic coating on the imported fabric is not visible to the naked eye as required by Note 2(a)(1) to Chapter 59, HTSUSA.


Whether the clear plastic coating on the fabric at issue is visible to the naked eye so as to warrant classification in Chapter 59 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 requires that classification be determined according to the terms of the chapter notes and, unless otherwise required, according to the remaining GRI's. Where goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI's may be applied, taken in order.

Chapter Note 2(a)(1) to Chapter 59 of the tariff schedule states that heading 5903 applies to textile fabrics impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with plastics other than fabrics in which the impregnation, coating, covering or lamination cannot be seen with the naked eye. No account is to be taken of any resulting change in color.

The sole criterion upon which Customs is to determine whether fabric is coated for purposes of classification under heading 5903, HTSUSA, is based on visibility: fabric is classifiable in Chapter 59 if the plastic coating is visible to the naked eye. This standard does not allow the examiner to take the "effects" of plastic into account. Plastic coating will often result in a change of color, or increase a fabric's stiffness; these are factors which, while indicative of the presence of plastic, may not be taken into account in determining whether the plastic itself is visible to the naked eye. We do note, however, that if upon unaided visual examination there is the suggestion of the presence of plastic coating, it is then within Customs' discretion to examine the fabric under magnification. See Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 082644 of March 2, 1990.

In protestant's statement to Customs, several Headquarter Ruling Letters (HRL's) are cited which interpret Chapter Note 2(a)(1) to Chapter 59. Specifically, protestant cites HRL 089568, dated August 16, 1991, which held that when a finished coated fabric is indistinguishable from the base fabric itself, the coating on the fabric is deemed not visible to the naked eye. Protestant erroneously infers that the converse of this statement is true: that if there is a visible difference between the coated and uncoated portions of a fabric, the coated portion is therefore "visible" for purposes of classification within Chapter 59. This is not true. As stated above, mere "effects" of plastic coating such as sheen and stiffness are not permissible grounds for determining that coating is visible. One may be able to discern between coated and
uncoated fabric and still not see the plastic coating itself, but rather the effects of the coating. In HRL 089568 Customs held that where there was no difference between coated and uncoated portions of fabric, it logically followed that the coating was not visible. This approach does not mean, as protestant implies, that if the examiner can discern a difference between coated and uncoated portions of fabric that this is sufficient evidence to warrant a finding that the coating is "visible".

In this instance, protestant believes that comparison of the final coated fabric to the base fabric reveals "a distinctive difference in texture and physical characteristics." While there may be slight differences between the properties of the coated portion of the fabric at issue and the uncoated base fabric, this does not necessarily mean that the plastic coating is visible as within the standard dictated in Note 2(a)(1) to Chapter 59. Examination of the sample submitted to this office yields the finding that there is a slight difference in color between the coated and the uncoated portions. This is not a basis for determining visibility as is expressly stated in Chapter Note

Protestant also cites HRL 950472, dated October 21, 1991, in which this office held that nylon fabric coated on one side by polyurethane was visible to the naked eye because it "blurred the surface of the fabrics." Physical examination of the subject fabric reveals no such blurring; the underlying weave of the fabric is distinct. Moreover, when comparing the coated portion of the fabric with the uncoated portion, both have equally distinct weaves.

As the plastic coating is not visible to the naked eye, this fabric is precluded from classification under heading 5903, HTSUSA. Classification of the subject merchandise is proper under heading 5407, HTSUSA, which provides for, in pertinent part, woven fabrics of syntheic filament yarn.


The merchandise at issue is classifiable under subheading 5407.60.2035, HTSUSA, under the provision for "woven fabrics of synthetic filament yarn, including woven fabrics obtained from materials of heading 5404: other woven fabrics, containing 85 percent or more by weight of non-textured polyester filaments: other... dyed: weighing more than 170 grams per square meter," dutiable at a rate of 17 percent ad valorem. The textile quota category is 620.

As the rate of duty under the classification indicated above is the same as the rate under which the subject merchandise was entered, you are instructed to deny the protest in full. A copy of this decision should be furnished to the protestant with the Form 19 notice of action.


John Durant, Director
Rulings Division

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