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HQ 954950

DECEMBER 23 1993

CLA-2:CO:R:C:M 954950 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 9032.89.60

District Director of Customs
300 South Ferry St.
Terminal Island
San Pedro, CA 90731

RE: PRD 2704-92-105398; Electronic Control Unit; Apparatus for Monitoring and Controlling Variables in an Automobile; Electronic Process Controller; Part of Fuel Injection System, Subheading 8511.90.60; Section XVI, Note 1(m)

Dear Sir:

This is our decision on Application for Further Review of Protest No. 2704-92-105398, filed against your action in classifying certain electric control units from Japan. The entry in question was liquidated on October 9, 1992, and this protest timely filed on December 29, 1992.


The electronic control unit (ECU) is a process controller designed to electrically monitor operating conditions in an automobile engine and return abnormal conditions to desired levels. The device receives sensory data from engine components that control fuel flow, temperature, engine pressure and speed, among other variables, compares the data to pre-established norms, and issues electronic commands to those components whose operation is below normal to bring the variable within desired operating parameters.

You determined that the ECU performs a control function appropriate to goods of heading 9032 and liquidated the entry under subheading 9032.89.60, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), as automatic regulating or controlling instruments and apparatus. Protestant maintains that the ECU is a printed circuit board that, despite performing a control function, is actually part of the car's starter motor and is dedicated solely to automotive use. As such, it is properly classifiable in subheading 8511.90.60, HTSUS, as parts of electrical ignition or starting equipment spark-ignition or - 2 -
compression-ignition internal combustion engines.

The provisions under consideration are as follows:

8511.90.60 Electrical ignition or starting equipment of a kind used for spark-ignition or compression-ignition internal combustion engines: Parts: Other parts...3.1 percent

9032.89.60 Automatic regulating or controlling instruments and apparatus; Other: Other
...4.9 percent


Whether the ECU is apparatus of heading 9032.


Merchandise is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 states in part that for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6.

Initially, Section XVI, Note 1(m), HTSUS, excludes from chapters 84 and 85 goods that are articles of chapter 90. Therefore, if the ECU is an instrument or apparatus of heading 9032 or any other heading of chapter 90, it cannot be classified in chapter 85.

The Harmonized Commodity Description And Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the Customs Cooperation Council's official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding on the contracting parties, and therefore not dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System and are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of merchandise under the System. Customs believes the notes should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80.

Relevant ENs at pp. 1535 and 1536 state that automatic regulators of heading 9032 are intended for use in complete automatic control systems which are designed to bring a quantity, electrical or non-electrical to, and maintain it at, a desired value, stabilized against any disturbances, by constantly measuring its actual value. Automatic regulators consist of a measuring device which determines the actual value of the - 3 -
variable to be controlled and converts it to an appropriate electrical signal, an electric control device which compares the measured value with the desired value and gives a signal (generally in the form of a modulated current), and a starting, stopping or operating device (generally contacts, switches or circuit breakers) which supplies current to an actuator in accordance with the signal received from the control device. The electrical control device and the starting, stopping or operating device are incorporated in the ECU. Sensors on the various engine components being monitored, which are not a part of this importation, complete the automatic control system described in the notes.


The electronic control unit (ECU) in issue is provided for in heading 9032. It is classifiable in subheading 9032.89.60, HTSUS, as automatic regulating or controlling instruments and apparatus. This eliminates subheading 8511.90.60 from consideration.

The protest should be denied. In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, you should mail this decision, together with the Customs Form 19, to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry or entries in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing the decision. Sixty days from the date of the decision the Office of Regulations and Rulings will take steps to make the decision available to Customs personnel via the Customs Rulings Module in ACS and to the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, Lexis, the Freedom of Information Act and other public access channels.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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