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HQ 956540

September 7, 1994
CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 956540 CAB


TARIFF NO.: 6204.62.4055

Herbert J. Lynch, Esq.
Sullivan & Lynch, P.C.
156 State Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02109

RE: Classification of shorts with belts; set vs. composite good; Heading 6204; Heading 6217

Dear Mr. Lynch:

This is in response to your inquiry of May 6, 1994, requesting a tariff classification ruling under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) for women's shorts with belts. A sample was submitted for examination.


The submitted samples are a pair of 100 percent cotton woven corduroy walking shorts and a textile belt which are referred to as Style 17895. The shorts contain slash side pockets, a waistband with five belt loops, side elastic, and a front zipper. The interior of the belt which is intended to have the appearance of simulated leather is a plastic material. The center layer of the belt appears to be a nonwoven textile material. The exterior portion of the belt is constructed of woven 100 percent cotton tapestry textile material which is color coordinated with the shorts. The loops on the pants are sized to accommodate the belt and the items are shipped and sold as a unit.

Because of the length of the shorts, there may be a question as to whether the garment is a pair of shorts or a divided skirt. After examining the sample, however, it is clear that the garment is a pair of shorts.


Whether the shorts 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 shorts 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 solely 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, composites 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 shorts and textile 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 shorts and belt at issue are adapted to each other in that the loops on the shorts are sized to accommodate the belt. The two components are mutually complementary in their use, are packed together and would not normally be offered for sale as separate articles. Therefore the goods at issue are considered to be 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. Also recently in HRL 954073 of September 23, 1993, Customs classified a dress and textile 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 shorts 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 shorts and belt, it appears that the shorts impart the essential character of the composite good. By quantity, weight, and cost, the shorts make up the greatest portion of the composite good. The belt, on the other hand, acts as an accent to the shorts. 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 shorts.


Based on the foregoing, the shorts and belt are classified as a composite good in subheading 6204. 62.4055, HTSUSA, which provides for women's woven cotton shorts. The applicable rate of duty is 17.7 percent ad valorem and the textile restraint category is 348.

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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