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HQ 957451

April 18, 1995

CLA-2 R:C:F 957451 EAB


TARIFF NO.: 3603.00.9000

Area Director
U.S. Customs Service
9901 Pacific Highway
Blaine, Washington 98230

RE: Internal Advice Request 40/94; 19 CFR 177.11(b)(2); potassium permanganate; ethylene glycol; ignition devices

Dear Area Director:

This is in response to a request for Internal Advice dated May 23, 1994, submitted on behalf of Aerostat, Inc., hereinafter identified as "Aerostat."


Pursuant to 19 CFR 177.11(b)(2), Aerostat has requested a written ruling concerning the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (Annotated) ("HTSUSA") of potassium permanganate crystals encased in a plastic sphere.

The merchandise consists of polystyrene spheres measuring 30mm in diameter and containing 2.6 mg each of potassium permanganate crystals. Used in conjunction with an airborne distribution device, the loaded spheres are separately and sequentially injected with a set amount of liquid ethylene glycol. This results in a timely exothermic chemical reaction that incinerates the sphere. In use, the charged sphere is dropped in a forest fire environment to generate backfires.

The polystyrene spheres containing potassium permanganate were liquidated under subheading 2841.60.0010, HTSUSA, an eo nomine provision for unmixed (see Legal Note 1(a), Chapter 28, HTSUSA) potassium permanganate.

The importer, through counsel by written submission and during a meeting with a member of this office, is of the opinion that the subject merchandise is described under subheading 9817.00.50, HTSUSA, a provision for "[m]achinery, equipment and implements to be used for agricultural or horticultural purposes."


Whether potassium permanganate crystals encased in polystyrene spheres that, when injected with ethylene glycol, yield an exothermic chemical reaction that may be used to start backfires for fighting forest fires are classified under heading 2841, 9817 or elsewhere.


Merchandise imported into the U.S. is classified under the HTSUSA. Tariff classification is governed by the principles set forth in the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs) and, in the absence of special language or context which otherwise requires, by the Additional U.S. Rules of Interpretation. The GRIs and the Additional U.S. Rules of Interpretation are part of the HTSUSA and are to be considered statutory provisions of law for all purposes.

We find that the polystyrene spheres are an integral part of the imported merchandise that cannot be disregarded in forcing classification of the merchandise under heading 2841 as a separate chemically defined compound. In this vein, we further find that this fire starting device itself is a finished product described elsewhere under a particular heading of the tariff schedule by application of GRI 1. The device is not a GRI 3 "composite good" since, in our opinion, the polystyrene spheres are not simply articles of plastic for the conveyance of the potassium permanganate crystals. It is our opinion that the polystyrene spheres are fuel consumed in the exothermic reaction in an amount and at a rate sufficient to ensure the combustion of the shrubs, grasses, etc., during the formative stage of the backfire.

"Classification of an article as an agricultural implement is dependent upon proof that its chief use commercially is in agriculture, that is, in the growth production of food or fiber for human subsistence [citation omitted]." William A. Rogers, Inc. v. United States, 59 Cust. Ct. 421, 422, CD 3178, (1967). "The basic test to ascertain whether an article [is an agricultural implement] is whether the article . . . is chiefly used as an agricultural implement in the production of food from the soil or the raising of domestic animals for food or raiment. [citations omitted.]" Sortex Co. of North America, Inc. v. United States, 60 Cust. Ct. 219, 224, CD 3329 (1968), aff'd., 56 C.C.P.A. 41, C.A.D. 951, (1969).

We find that the merchandise is not an "agricultural" item of subheading 9817.00.50, HTSUSA.

We find that the subject merchandise is an "igniter" of heading 3603, HTSUSA.


Potassium permanganate crystals encased in polystyrene spheres are classifiable under subheading 3603.00.9000, HTSUSA, a provision for "Safety fuses; detonating fuses; percussion or detonating caps; igniters; electric detonators: Detonating caps, igniters or electric detonators."

While merchandise classifiable under the foregoing provision is currently subject to a column one general rate of duty of 0.2 percent ad valorem, merchandise entered under the corresponding provision in 1993 was dutiable at the comparable rate of 0.14 cents each.

This decision should be mailed by your office to the internal advice requester no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. On that date, the Office of Regulations and Rulings will take steps to make the decision available to Customs personnel via the Customs Rulings Module in ACS and the public via the diskette Subscription Service, Freedom of Information Act and other public access channels.


John Durant, Director

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