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HQ 952706

July 19, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 952706 jlj


TARIFF NO.: 4823.90.8500

District Director of Customs
55 Erieview Plaza
Cleveland, Ohio 44144

RE: Decision on Application for Review of Protest No. 4102-92-100090; Classification of PH and Other Indicator Strips

Dear Sir:

This is in response to your liquidation of certain entries covering PH indicator strips and similar strips produced in West Germany. Counsel for the protestant, EM Science Inc. of Cincinnati, Ohio, has provided this office with samples of the PH indicator strips.


Counsel for the protestant describes the instant merchandise as follows:

EM's pH and indicator strips are made by mixing raw cotton linters in water to produce a slurry and then adding the reactive dye. During the slurring process, the dye is chemically bonded to the cotton linters. The slurry is then pressed on a paper machine to produce rolls of cotton linter indicator paper. The rolls of pressed cotton linter paper are applied to thin sheets of a polyester base and automatically cut to size.


Are the instant articles classified as other articles of paper pulp in subheading 4823.90.1000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), as other articles of cellulose wadding in subheading 4823.90.7000, HTSUSA, or as other articles of paper in subheading 4823.90.8500, HTSUSA?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification shall be according to the terms of the headings and any relevant section or chapter notes.

The instant merchandise is composed of two different components--i.e., the chemically impregnated paper which would be classified in Chapter 48 and the plastic carrier classified in Chapter 39. HTSUSA. GRI 3(b), HTSUSA, states:

3. When goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows:
b. Mixtures, composite goods...made up of different components...shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character ....

The Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (EN) are the official interpretation of the nomenclature at the international level. EN VIII for GRI 3(b) states, in part:

The factor which determines essential character will vary as between different kinds of goods. It may, for example, be determined by the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

In the case of the instant merchandise, the function of the plastic carrier strip is merely to hold the "active" part of the indicator strip--i.e., the paper impregnated with chemicals. The function of the impregnated paper is to change color when inserted in a chemical, thereby revealing both the presence and the amount of the chemical for which the test is performed.

The role of the impregnated paper is far more significant than that of the plastic carrier strip, therefore the impregnated paper constitutes the essential character of the indicator strip.

Counsel argues that the instant merchandise is classified under the provision for other articles of paper pulp in subheading 4823.90.1000, HTSUSA. He contends that this is the most specific provision for the indicator strips. Customs classified the goods under the provision for other articles of paper, in subheading 4823.90.8500, HTSUSA.

Counsel's primary contention in the original protest was that even though the goods were processed on a paper making machine, they did not become paper because they did not undergo a finishing process which would convert that merchandise into paper. Accordingly, the indicator strips consist of pulp which has been made into an article form.

In a subsequent submission, counsel has taken the position that the merchandise is classifiable as webs of cellulose fibers, in subheading 4823.90.7000, HTSUSA.

Regarding this latter position, while Heading 4823 specifically names both types of merchandise, subheading 4823.90.7000 provides only for cellulose wadding. Webs of cellulose fibers are not eo nomine provided for at the subheading level and are, therefore, classifiable in subheading 4823.90.8500, the same basket provision under which Customs classified this merchandise.

In addition, the terms "cellulose wadding" and "webs of cellulose fibers" are defined in the EN for Heading 4803 as follows:

Cellulose wadding consists of a creped web of cellulose fibres of open formation ....

Webs of cellulose fibres (tissues) consist of a creped web of cellulose fibres of closed formation ....

Since the material from which the indicator strips have been made has not been creped, that material does not meet either of the definitions cited above.

The Dictionary of Paper, Fourth Edition (1980), defines "pulp" as "Fibrous material prepared from wood, cotton, grasses, etc., by chemical or mechanical processes for use in making paper or cellulose products."

Under the section on "Impregnated paper and paperboard"' the General Explanatory Notes for Chapter 48, HTSUSA, state that "Impregnated papers...include...indicator papers such as litmus or pole-finding papers .... "

The Dictionary of Paper defines "Indicator Papers" as synonymous with "Test Papers." "Test Papers" are defined as "Papers, usually unsized, that are impregnated with any of a variety of chemical reagents, and used for detecting the presence of certain substances in solutions or in gases and vapors by the appearance of color changes."

By further processing the pulp into paper, the manufacturer of the instant merchandise has converted the pulp into a test or
indicator paper. As noted in the facts portion of this decision, counsel, in describing the indicator strips, refers to that merchandise as "indicator paper" and "cotton linter paper."

The General EN cited above define "paper" in brief as follows: "Paper consists essentially of the cellulosic fibers of the pulps of Chapter 47 felted together in sheet form." The indicator paper meets this definition, therefore classification as an article of paper pulp is incorrect.

In counsel's second brief, dated April 16, 1993, counsel for the protestant makes the additional claim that the manufacture of paper is a three-step process: (1) preparation of the pulp, (2) formation of the sheet or web, and (3) finishing. He argues that even if a product is manufactured by a paper making machine, as the instant cotton linter paper is, it does not constitute paper until it has been subjected to a finishing process, such as calendaring. Since the cotton linter paper has not been subjected to a finishing process, he claims that it is still merely paper pulp, and that it comes out of the paper making machine in the form of a web, and therefore the test indicator strips are classified as other articles of paper pulp in subheading 4823.90.1000, HTSUSA, or as other articles of cellulose wadding, in subheading 4823.90.7000, HTSUSA.

As clearly indicated in the Dictionary of Paper definition of "pulp," pulp is a fibrous material for use in making paper or cellulose products. Once the pulp has been subjected to a paper making process, as the instant paper pulp has, it ceases to be pulp.

Counsel further states that the Court of International Trade, in Sulzer Escher Wyss, Inc. v. United States, Slip Op. 93113 (June 22, 1993), held that "Paper manufacture consists of stock preparation, web-formation, de-watering and finishing." Counsel points out that the Court said that calendaring is the principal finishing operation and that it changes the surface characteristics of the paper by changing its optical and strength characteristics.

In Sulzer Escher Wyss, Inc. v. United States, supra, the court divided finishing operations into two categories: converting operations (e.g., slitting, rewinding, trimming, sorting, carting and packaging) and operations which change the surface of the paper. The court specifically said that the first type of finishing operations were not part of the process of paper manufacture, thereby emphasizing that not all finishing operations are integral steps in making paper.

The court, in Sulzer Escher Wyss, Inc. v. United States, stated that"finishing" was part of paper manufacture. It did not state that paper could not exist without "finishing." In Customs view, pulp which has been processed in a paper making machine ceases to be pulp and becomes paper. The fact that the material must be further processed in order to be usable for a specific purpose does not detract from its identity as paper. Indeed, the court quoted the EN to Chapter 48 to the effect that "Paper may be finished by calendaring or supercalendaring . " [Emphasis added.]

The Dictionary of Paper defines "paper" generally as "the name for all kinds of matted or felted sheets of fiber (usually vegetable, but sometimes mineral, animal or synthetic) formed on a fine screen from water suspension." The instant cotton linter paper meets this definition. We note that the Dictionary of Paper makes no mention of any need for paper to be subjected to a finishing process in order to constitute paper.

Chapter 48, HTSUSA, covers paper and paper articles. The General EN for Chapter 48 also indicate that it is not necessary to subject paper to finishing processes for it to be classified as paper in Chapter 48. As stated above, the General EN to Chapter 48 state that "Paper consists essentially of the cellulosic fibers of the pulps of Chapter 47 felted together in sheet form." No mention is made of the necessity of any finishing process.

The General EN also state that "the most commonly used method of making paper by machine is the Fourdrinier process." The process of making hand-made paper is also described, and it too neglects any mention of the necessity for finishing processes to occur in order to make hand-made paper.

Given the facts above, since the instant cotton linter paper is made from a paper pulp and is processed on a paper making machine, it constitutes paper. Once the paper pulp has been processed by the paper making machine, it is no longer paper pulp but paper. Therefore the test indicator strips cannot be classified as an article of paper pulp in subheading 4823.90.1000, HTSUSA.


The instant PH and test indicator strips are classified as other articles of paper, in subheading 4823.90.8500, HTSUSA. The protest should be denied in full. A copy of this decision should be sent to the protestant along with the CF 19, Notice of Action.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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