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HQ 955219

February 3, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 955219 NLP


TARIFF NO.: 4602.10.2920

Mr. Arlen T. Epstein
Serko & Simon
One World Trade Center
Suite 3371
New York, NY 10048

RE: Child's handbag made of plaited straw material; headings 4202 and 4602; Legal Note 1 to Chapter 46; Explanatory Notes to heading 4602; GRI 3(b); essential character; Explanatory Notes To GRI 3(b)

Dear Mr. Epstein:

This is in response to your letter of October 13, 1993, on behalf of your client, Sarne Corp., in which you requested the tariff classification of a child's straw handbag under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). A prototype sample of the handbag was submitted for our review and will be returned to you under separate cover.


The subject merchandise is a child's handbag that is designed to be carried on the shoulder by a strap. The bag measures approximately 5 inches in width, 4 inches in height and 2 inches in depth. It has a printed fabric top which is designed to be tucked into the bag's interior. However, it can also be pulled out of the opening of the handbag to increase the handbag's carrying capacity. The top of this fabric is hemmed and has a drawstring strung through the hem. The front of the bag has a matching printed fabric bow attached to it. The interior of the bag is lined with a 65% polyester and 35% cotton fabric material.

The outside of the handbag is constructed from wheat straw which has been assembled into strips that are interwoven to form strands. These strands of straw material are rectangular in shape and have been sewn together, one on top of another, to form the outside shell of the handbag. Additional oval shaped strands of plaited straw material have been sewn on underneath the handbag shell to form its bottom. A thin strip of plaited straw covers the middle section of the bottom.

The handbag's strap is approximately 39 inches in length and is made of a 65% polyester and 35% cotton woven material. The strap is attached to the handbag by threading it through two gold colored plastic rings and tying knots at both ends of the strap.


What is the tariff classification of the subject handbag?


The classification of goods under the HTSUS is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs), 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 otherwise require, the remaining GRI's may be applied, taken in order.

Chapter 46, HTSUS, provides for "[m]anufactures of straw, of esparto or other plating materials; basketware and wickerwork." Legal Note 1 to Chapter 46, HTSUS, provides:

In this chapter the expression "plaiting materials" means materials in a state or form suitable for plaiting, interlacing or similar processes; it includes straw, osier or willow, bamboos, rushes, reeds, strips of wood, strips of other vegetable materials (for example, raffia, narrow leaves or strips cut form broad leaves) or bark....

Heading 4602, HTSUS, provides for, inter alia, basketware, wickerwork and other articles, made directly to shape from plaiting materials or made up from articles of heading 4601. The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs), although not legally binding, are the official interpretation of the nomenclature at the international level and provide further information regarding the coverage of heading 4602, HTSUS. The ENs specifically name some of the articles included in the heading. Handbags are among the named articles.

Since the handbag at issue is made up of plaiting material provided for in Chapter 46, HTSUS, it is classifiable in that chapter. Specifically, it would be classifiable in heading 4602, HTSUS. However, as the bag is also made of a 65% polyester and 35% cotton textile liner that is visible and forms part of the outer surface of the bag, it is potentially classifiable in heading 4202, HTSUS, which provides for, inter alia, "[t]runks, suitcases,...; handbags,... and similar containers, of leather...of textile materials...." Therefore, as the handbag is prima facie classifiable under two headings of the HTSUS based upon its material composition, the principles set forth in GRI 3 are to be utilized to render a final classification determination.

GRI 3(a) states 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:

(a) The heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description. However, when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods. . . , those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to the goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description of the goods.

As noted above, the handbag is classifiable under two headings of the tariff schedule based upon its material composition. Pursuant to GRI 3(a), these headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to one another. Therefore, we cannot classify this item on the basis of GRI 3(a). We look to GRI 3(b), which provides the following:

(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.

Regarding "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.

The essential character of the handbag is imparted by the plaited straw material. The plaiting provides the main visual appeal to the handbag and it covers more of the bag's surface area than the printed textile fabric material. Accordingly, the handbag is classifiable as an article made from plaiting materials in heading 4602, HTSUS.


The child's handbag made of plaited straw material is classifiable in subheading 4602.10.2920, HTSUS, which provides for "[b]asketwork, wickerwork and other articles, made directly to shape from plaiting materials or made up from articles of heading 4601;...[o]f vegetable materials: [l]uggage, handbags and flatgoods, whether or not lined: [o]ther: [h]andbags." The rate of duty is 5.3% ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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