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HQ 954712

November 8, 1993
CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 954712 NLP


TARIFF NO.: 6110.10.2080

Mr. Tommy Lai
Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office
British Embassy
1150 18th Street, N.W.
Suite 475
Washington, D.C. 20036

RE: Cardigan-style garment; heading 6110; Statistical Note 3, Chapter 61, Section IX; GRIs 3 and 6; essential character; HRL 088555

Dear Mr. Lai:

This is in response to your letter of July 26, 1993, in which you requested the tariff classification for a women's wool knit garment under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). A sample of the garment was submitted for our examination.


The garment in question, style 12903, is a women's finely knit upper body garment that is comprised of 100% wool fibers. The garment has a deep V-neckline, a full-front opening with a one-button closure and long sleeves. It is loose fitting and has inside shoulder pads. The garment is designed to extend below the waist of the wearer.

The knit fabric of the garment consists of 2 vertical repeating patterns. The longer pattern measures 2 inches long and it consists of a 1x1x1x1x1x3 rib knit construction. In this pattern there are 14 stitches per 2 centimeters measured in the horizontal direction. The shorter pattern is 3/4 of an inch long and it consists of double knit stitches. In this pattern there are 9 stitches per 2 centimeters measured in the horizontal direction. These 2 vertical patterns continue over the entire garment, except that the last 7-3/4 inches of the bottom of the garment, in both the front and back, consists solely of the rib knit construction.


What is the tariff classification of the 100% wool knit cardigan-style garment?


The classification of goods under the HTSUS is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. In the event that the 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.

Heading 6110, HTSUS, provides for "[s]weaters, pullovers, sweatshirts, waistcoats (vests) and similar articles, knitted or crocheted." The submitted article resembles a sweater both in use and appearance and is classifiable in heading 6110, HTSUS.

Sweaters are only provided for under heading 6110, HTSUS, at the statistical level. In this regard, Statistical Note 3, Chapter 61, Section IX, HTSUS, which provides the criteria for the classification of sweaters, states the following:

For the purposes of this chapter, statistical provisions for sweaters include garments, whether or not known as pullovers, vests or cardigans, which are constructed essentially with 9 or fewer stitches per 2 centimeters measured in the horizontal direction.

The garment at issue is constructed of a wool knit fabric with 2 repeating patterns that each have a different stitch count. The first pattern is a rib knit with 14 stitches per 2 centimeters measured in the horizontal direction and the second pattern is a double knit with 9 stitches per 2 centimeters measured in the horizontal direction. Therefore, based on the stitch counts, this garment could be classified as a sweater in subheading 6110.10.2030, HTSUS, or as other than a sweater in subheading 6110.10.2080, HTSUS.

It must be recognized that the application of the GRIs to the statistical annotations is not required under the HTS. GRI 6, which incorporates GRIs 1 through 5 in classifying goods at the subheading level, is limited to the determination of the legal classification of the merchandise. By contrast, the determination of the appropriate statistical annotation is a matter committed to the authority of the Committee established by section 484(e), Tariff Act of 1930. Accordingly, there is no legal requirement that GRI 6 apply to the determination of the
appropriate statistical annotation. See, Headquarters Ruling Letter 088555, dated March 21, 1991.

It is our opinion, however, that GRI 6 can apply at the 10 digit level. This will occur only where there is an existing question as to which statistical annotation applies and where no other rule will resolve the matter. Therefore, in the instant case, as there is a question regarding which statistical annotation applies and there is no other rule that will resolve the matter, we will utilize GRI 3, pursuant to GRI 6, in determining the classification of the subject garment at the statistical level.

GRI 3 states, in pertinent part, the following:

When by application of rule 2(b) or for any other reason, goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows:

(b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) to GRI 3(b) provide an interpretation of the term "essential character". EN VIII to GRI 3(b), page 4, states that:

(VIII) 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.

It is our position that the rib knit fabric constitutes the essential character of the garment as it comprises, by a considerable amount, the greater surface area of the garment's fabric. Once we have determined that this fabric provides the essential character, it is this fabric that determines the garment's classification. Therefore, as this fabric has more than 9 stitches per 2 centimeters measured in the horizontal direction, the subject garment is classified as other than a sweater in subheading 6110.10.2080, HTSUS.


Style 12903 is classified in subheading 6110.10.2080, HTSUS, which provides for "[s]weaters, pullovers, sweatshirts, waistcoats (vests) and similar articles, knitted or crocheted: [o]f wool or fine animal hair: [o]ther: [o]ther: [w]omen's or girls'." The rate of duty is 17% ad valorem and the textile category code is 438.

The designated textile and apparel categories may be subdivided into parts. If so, the visa and quota requirements applicable to the subject merchandise may be affected. Since part categories are the result of international bilateral agreements which are subject to frequent renegotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available we suggest the importer check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report on current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an internal issuance of the U.S. Customs Service which is updated weekly and is available for inspection at your local Customs office.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories, you should contact your local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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