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HQ 956538

November 29, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 956538 ch


TARIFF NO.: 6307.90.9989

Leonard L. Rosenberg, Esq.
Sandler, Travis, & Rosenberg, P.A.
The Waterford
5200 Blue Lagoon Drive
Miami, Florida 33126-2022

RE: Tariff Classification of a Front Panel Assembly for a Suitcase.

Dear Mr. Rosenberg:

This is in response to your letter, dated June 1, 1994, on behalf of Panamco, Inc., requesting tariff classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) for a front panel assembly which will be incorporated into a suitcase. A sample of the front panel and the completed suitcase was sent to this office for examination.


The instant merchandise is the front panel or lid of a suitcase. It measures approximately 12 inches by 22 inches and is composed primarily of nylon and vinyl. The exterior portion of the panel features two zippered pockets and rigid edges created by a rectangular wire frame. The interior portion of the panel is lined with a woven man-made fabric. It possesses a large zippered pocket and criss-crossed elastic straps with a plastic fastener at the center.

The remainder of the suitcase includes a rear panel, walls which comprise the body of the article, as well as certain interior and exterior fittings. The exterior of the rear panel possesses a large zippered pocket and plastic wheels. The exterior walls have been reinforced to render them rigid. They also incorporate a three-sided zipper opening, top and side carrying handles, a retractable top handle to be used in conjunction with the wheels and an identification card window. The interior fittings include a plastic hanger and partitions with elastic straps.


Whether the front panel assembly is classifiable in heading 4202, HTSUS, which provides in part for suitcases; or heading 6307, HTSUS, which provides for other made up textile articles?


General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 2(a) states in pertinent part that:

Any reference in a heading to an article shall be taken to include a reference to that article incomplete or unfinished, provided that, as entered, the incomplete or unfinished article has the essential character of the complete or finished article.

Thus, if the front panel possesses the essential character of a finished suitcase, it shall be classified as a container of heading 4202, HTSUS.

In interpreting the HTSUS, we have construed the term "essential character" to mean the attribute which strongly marks or serves to distinguish what an article is; that which is indispensable to the structure, core or condition of the article. In addition, the Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System provide further guidance in this regard. Factors such as bulk, quantity, weight or value, or the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods are to be utilized, though the importance of certain factors will vary between different goods. See Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 951537, dated January 6, 1993; EN Rule 3(b), HCDCS p. 4.

In this instance, the front panel makes up only a fraction of the bulk and weight of the finished article. The front panel is composed of generally the same materials as the remainder of the suitcase. Accordingly, the value of the materials used to fabricate the front panel is only a small proportion of the total material cost. Viewed in isolation, the shape or outline of the finished article is not evident from the front panel.

Furthermore, we note that the front panel functions to protect the contents of the suitcase and to provide storage space for various personal effects. In this respect, the front panel is no more important to the finished article than the walls or the rear panel, which perform similar as well as other functions. Hence, the front panel is not the distinguishing feature of the suitcase. Therefore, based on the foregoing, we conclude that the front panel does not possess the essential character of a finished suitcase. It follows that this article cannot be classified as a suitcase of heading 4202, HTSUS.

The front panel is composed of textile materials and is classifiable within Section XI, HTSUS, which provides for textiles and textile articles. The panel is not specifically provided for within Section XI. Accordingly, it is classifiable in heading 6307, HTSUS, which is the residual provision for textile articles.

We note in passing HRL 951183, dated June 16, 1992, which was a reconsideration of HRL 089289, dated December 9, 1991. In that decision, the merchandise was described as follows:

The sample you initially provided was a bottom component of a pullman suitcase. The top flap contains a half zipper sewn around the outside edge. The top flap also has an outside pocket the width of the entire top flap that contains a zipper as a means of closure. The pocket is designed for toting miscellaneous smaller items. Each article is made of a vinyl backed woven nylon material. The bottom component measures approximately 31 x 24 inches, with an expandable maximum width of 9 inches. The bottom component appears to be complete and in a condition ready to be joined to the lid portion of the finished suitcase; it has (sic) rigid edge and corner piping, a carrying handle securely affixed to the top, reinforcing straps sewn lengthwise onto the outside, inner straps for holding clothing into place, a rigid bottom flap with plastic fixtures for the attachment of wheels, and a half zipper sewn around the approximate edge. The top portion and the bottom portion of the suitcase will be imported separately.

In HRL 951183, we concluded that both the bottom and top portions of the suitcase possessed the essential character of a finished suitcase. Accordingly, the merchandise was classified in heading 4202, HTSUS.

The goods at issue in HRL 951183 should be distinguished from the subject merchandise. In this instance, it appears to this writer that the front panel makes up less of the total bulk, weight and value of the finished article than either of the two parts at issue in HRL 951183. Moreover, in that determination, each piece played a greater role in relation to the finished article than the instant panel (i.e. each piece incorporated more of the features necessary to complete the suitcase than the front panel assembly does in this case).


The subject merchandise is classifiable under subheading 6307.90.9989, HTSUS, which provides for other made up articles, including dress patterns: other: other: other, other: other. The applicable rate of duty is 7 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

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