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HQ 955523

June 23, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 955523 CAB


Tariff No. 6204.62.4020

Ms. Kimberly Kotchka
The Leslie Fay Companies, Inc.
1400 Broadway
New York, NY 10018

RE: Reconsideration of DD 891355 of October 26, 1993; Classification of pants and belt; set vs. composite good; Heading 6204; Heading 6217

Dear Ms. Kotchka:

This is in response to your inquiry of December 6, 1993, requesting reconsideration of DD 891355 concerning the tariff classification of a pair of women's pants with a belt under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United Annotated (HTSUSA). Samples were submitted for examination.

Pursuant to section 625, Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625), as amended by section 623 of Title VI (Customs Modernization) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057, 2186 (1993) (hereinafter section 625), notice of the proposed modification of NYRL 891355 was published May 18, 1994, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 28, Number 20.


The merchandise in question is referred to as Style SU-122 and is comprised of pants and a belt. The pants are constructed of 100 percent woven cotton fabric and the belt is constructed of a loosely woven jute material with two wooden beads at each end. The pants feature in-seam side pockets, an elasticized waistband, and three belt loops. The loops on the pants are sized to accommodate the belt and the items are shipped and sold as a unit.

DD 891355 classified the subject goods as a set under subheading 6204.62.4020, HTSUSA, which provides for women's cotton trousers. The textile restraint category for the pants was 348 and the textile restraint category for the belt was 859.


Whether the pants and belt are classifiable as a composite good or as a set?


Classification of goods under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. Merchandise that cannot be classified in accordance with GRI 1 is to be classified in accordance with subsequent GRI's taken in order.

The applicable heading for the women's trousers is Heading 6204, HTSUSA, and the applicable heading for belts is Heading 6217, HTSUSA. As the tariff does not contain a heading that specifically provides for pants and belts, together, classification cannot be based on GRI 1.

GRI 3 applies to goods that are prima facie classifiable under two or more headings. GRI 3 states, in pertinent part, 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.

The Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (EN), although not legally binding, are the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level. The EN to GRI 3(b), provides, in part:

(IX) For the purposes of this Rule, composite goods made up of different components shall be taken to mean not only those in which the components are attached to each other to form a practically inseparable whole but also those with separable components, provided these components are adapted one to the other and are mutually complementary and that together they form a whole which would not normally be offered for sale in separate parts.

The subject pants and belt meet the requirements for composite goods. The two articles are separable components that are adapted one to the other. In order to be considered as composite goods, articles must be (1) adapted to each other, (2) mutually complementary and (3) form a whole which would not normally be offered for sale in separate parts. The subject belt and pants are adapted to each other in that the loops and slits on the pants are sized to accommodate the belt. The two components are mutually complimentary in their use, are packed together and would not normally be offered for sale as separate articles. Therefore, the articles at issue are considered a composite good for tariff classification purposes.

The aforementioned determination is in accordance with Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 081619 of October 6, 1988 and HRL 083853 of May 17, 1989 which classified trousers and belts as composite goods. There seems to be some ambiguity in our early rulings which dealt with the issue of textile belts imported as a unit with garments. It is important to note that the two cited rulings fail to present detailed descriptions of the articles therein. Despite the lack of detailed description in these earlier cases, it is Customs view that generally when a textile belt is imported with a garment and it is intended to be sold at the wholesale and retail level as a single unit, the articles will be considered composite goods for tariff classification purposes. This position has been confirmed with a recent ruling, HRL 954073 of September 23, 1993. In HRL 954073, Customs classified a dress and belt which were color coordinated and constructed of the same fabric as a composite good. Customs stated therein that the dress and belt were components which would not normally be offered for sale as separate articles.

Having determined that the pants and belt are a composite good, it is now necessary to determine which of the two components give the article its essential character. In determining the essential character of the subject goods in accordance with GRI 3(b), Customs looks to various factors for guidance. Such factors include, but are not limited to, the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of the constituent material in relation to the use of the goods. After examining the pants and belt, it appears that the pants impart the essential character of the composite good. By quantity, weight, and cost, the pants make up the greatest portion of the composite good. The belt, on the other hand, acts as an accent to the pants. It is an accessory item. Thus, the subject merchandise is classifiable in Heading 6204, HTSUSA, which is the provision for, inter alia, women's woven pants.


Based on the foregoing, the pants and belt are classified as a composite good in subheading 6204.62.4020, HTSUSA, which provides for women's other cotton trousers. The applicable rate of duty is 17.7 percent ad valorem and the applicable textile category is 348. The decision in DD 891355 was incorrect.

Pursuant to 19 CFR 177.9(d), DD 891355, dated October 26, 1993, is hereby modified.

In accordance with section 625, this ruling will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Customs Bulletin. Publication of rulings or decisions pursuant to section 625 does not constitute a change of practice or position in accordance with section 177.10(c)(1), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 177.10(c)(1)).

The designated textile and apparel category may be subdivided into parts. If so, 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 that you 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 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 applicable to textile merchandise, you should contact your local Customs office prior to importing the merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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