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HQ 954019

March 23, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 954019 EAB


TARIFF NO.: 3204.17.3085

Matthew Chang, Assistant Vice President
ITOCHU International Inc.
335 Madison Avenue
New York, New York 10017

RE: F-WX2-Y, F-WX2-M, F-WX2-C; printing ink; NYRL 861208 affirmed

Dear Mr. Chang:

This is in reply to your letter dated April 27, 1993, in which you request modification or revocation of Customs Ruling Letter NY 861208 (April 3, 1991).

In response to your letter dated March 6, 1991, Customs classified three chemical products under subheading 3204.17.3090, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), a provision for other organic pigments and preparations based thereon and described in additional U.S. note 3 to section VI of the tariff schedule, dutiable at the column 1 general rate of 15 percent ad valorem. NY 861208, supra.


The products are referred to as F-WX2-Y, F-WX2-M and F-WX2-C, respectively.

In your March 6, 1991, correspondence, you informed Customs that F-WX2-Y was a base pigment combined with a resin mixture that functioned as a dispersing agent, i.e., the pigmenting component was a formulation of three Pigments Yellow and the resin component was a formulation of organic polymers, waxes, acids and others. The other two preparations, F-WX2-M and F-WX2-C, consisted of red or blue pigmenting components, respectively, and the aforesaid resin component/dispersing agent in somewhat differing formulations of the same organic polymers, waxes, acids, etc.

In your April 27, 1993, correspondence, you state in part that NY 861208 "was based on an incorrect product description." Offering additional information on the products themselves and the uses to which they are put, you are of the opinion that Customs is in error and should find the preparations classifiable under subheading 3215.19.0060, HTSUSA, a provision for printing ink other than black and further described thereunder, dutiable at the column one general rate of 1.8 percent ad valorem.

With particular respect to the goods themselves, you state that "the correct product description is [that] of pre-mixed printing inks [that] are used to print panels of yellow, red and blue onto jumbo rolls of polyester film. These printed rolls are then converted to ribbons. These ribbons are used to print color images from a computer monitor [emphasis in original.]"

You further state that "the correct, actual composition is ... mainly of waxes with color pigments [emphasis in original]."

You add that F-WX2-Y, F-WX2-M and F-WX2-C are sold by you to a company that adds paraffin, hydrocarbon and carnauba waxes to each one to obtain specific viscosities and melting points, and the resultant preparations are applied to polyester film which, upon solidifying, is cut into printer ribbons.


Whether pigment preparations used in the manufacture of printer ribbons are classified as printing ink.


Merchandise imported into the U.S. is classified under the HTSUSA. Tariff classification is governed by the principles set forth in the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs) and, in the absence of special language or context which otherwise requires, by the Additional U.S. Rules of Interpretation. The GRIs and the Additional U.S. Rules of Interpretation are part of the HTSUSA and are to be considered statutory provisions of law for all purposes.

GRI 1, requires that classification be determined first according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative section or chapter notes and, unless otherwise required, according to the remaining GRIs taken in order.

Explanatory Notes (Ens) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System represent the official interpretation of the Customs Cooperation Council on the scope of each heading, and, although neither binding upon the contracting parties to the Harmonized System Convention nor considered to be dispositive interpretations, they should be consulted on the proper scope of the System.

Heading 3215 describes "printing ink, writing or drawing ink and other inks, whether or not concentrated or solid." In other words, classifiable under the foregoing provision are the following articles: 1) printing ink, 2) writing or drawing ink and 3) other inks, whether or not concentrated or solid.

The issue, then, is whether the merchandise is "printing ink" according to the terms of heading 3215, HTSUSA and classifiable thereunder pursuant to GRI 1.

EN 32.15 essentially defines "printing inks" to be "pastes of varying consistency, obtained by mixing a finely divided black or coloured pigment with a vehicle; [such] vehicle consists of either natural resins or synthetic polymers, dispersed in oils or dissolved in solvents, and contains a small quantity of additives to impart desired functional properties."

Since none of the three preparations contains an oil or solvent, we find that none of the preparations is described as "printing inks;" therefore, none of them is, pursuant to GRI 1, classifiable under heading 3215.

Although through the application of GRI 1 we find the preparations not to be printing inks of heading 3215, we do find that they are preparations based on organic pigments, and we remain of the opinion that they are described by the terms of heading 3204, HTSUSA.


F-WX2-Y, F-WX2-M and F-WX2-C, preparations used in the manufacture of printer ribbons, are classified under subheading 3204.17.3085, HTSUSA, a provision for synthetic organic coloring matter, whether or not chemically defined; preparations as specified in note 3 to this chapter based on synthetic organic coloring matter; synthetic organic products of a kind used as fluorescent brightening agents or as luminophores, whether or not chemically defined; synthetic organic coloring matter and preparations based thereon as specified in note 3 to this chapter; pigments and preparations based thereon; other; products described in additional U.S. note 3 to section VI; other.

Products entered under the foregoing provision are dutiable at the column 1 general rate of 15 percent ad valorem.

NY 861208 (April 3, 1991) is affirmed. It is noted that the former subheading 3204.17.3090, HTSUSA, has been renumbered and is now 3204.17.3085, HTSUSA.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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