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NY 808167

July 27, 1995

CLA-2-45:S:N:N3:230 808167


TARIFF NO.: 4504.10.5000

Mr. Stephen J. Leahy
Leahy & Ward
63 Commercial Wharf
Boston, MA 02110

RE: Tariff classification of sheets and rolls of agglomerated cork with a binder of polyurethane; synthetic rubber; Legal Note 1 and 4 of Chapter 40, HTS

Dear Mr. Leahy:

In your letters dated February 21 and April 7, 1995, you requested a tariff classification ruling on behalf of Tecnicor International, Inc. As we notified you on March 24, 1995, your samples were sent to our laboratory for analysis. We have now received a report. We apologize for the delay.

The product in question consists of granulated cork which has been agglomerated under heat and pressure with an added binder. The binder is a prepolymer of polyurethane. The product is imported in sheets and rolls. This ruling covers products designated CCF-11, CCB-12, CCF-13, CCF-22, and CCS-14. Samples of the merchandise (except CCS-14) were submitted. These samples together with your letter and attachments were sent to our laboratory for analysis, specifically to determine the nature of the binding agent.

In your letter of April 7, 1995, in response to our request for additional information, you submitted a letter from your supplier. The additional information indicates that there are two main ingredients to this product, cork granules and a binder. In addition, it is indicated that the formulations are based on raw material weights with 94% granulated cork and 5% polyurethane. This additional information was also submitted to our laboratory.

In your request, you maintain that the subject merchandise should be classified under subheading 4504.10.1000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), which provides for vulcanized sheets and slabs wholly of ground or pulverized cork and rubber.

The Explanatory Notes (ENs) to the HTS constitute the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level. The ENs to heading 45.04 define "agglomerated cork" as follows:

Agglomerated cork is manufactured by agglomerating crushed, granulated or ground cork generally under heat and pressure:

(1) With an added binding substance (e.g., unvulcanised rubber, glue, plastics, tar, gelatin),...

There is no disagreement that the product in question is agglomerated cork of subheading 4504.10, HTS. However, you claim that the binder is a synthetic rubber which has been vulcanized. Thus, you conclude that the subject product is classifiable under subheading 4504.10.1000, HTSUSA.

You have submitted various information to support your claim. "Attachment A" has been submitted to show that the product is advertised as cork composition rolls of cork and rubber. "Attachment B" is a memo from the supplier detailing the properties of the merchandise . "Attachment C" is information from the supplier claiming that the binder is chemically identical to Adiprene L-100/L-167 which you believe it to be a synthetic rubber.

In addition, you cite HQR 087392 dated August 6, 1992 in which Customs ruled on a similar product. We distinguish the above ruling. The merchandise in HQR 087392 consisted of a mixture of cork and rubber; however, the rubber comprised 65% of the product by weight. More importantly, there was no question on the identity of the binding agent. Thus, the cited ruling is not applicable to the present issue.

Chapter 40, Note 1, HTS, which pertains to rubber and articles of rubber, provides as follows:

Except where the context otherwise requires, throughout the tariff schedule the expression "rubber" means the following products, whether or not vulcanized or hard: natural rubber, balata, gutta-percha, guayule, chicle and similar natural gums, synthetic rubber, factice derived from oils and such substances reclaimed.

Note 4, to Chapter 40, HTS, states as follows:

In note 1 to this chapter and in heading
4002, the expression "synthetic rubber" applies to:

(a) Unsaturated synthetic substances which can be irreversibly transformed by vulcanization with sulfur into non- thermoplastic substances which, at a temperature between 18 C and 29 C, will not break on being extended to three times their original length and will return, after being extended to twice their original length, within a period of 5 minutes, to a length not greater than 1-1/2 times their original length. For the purposes of this test, substances necessary for the cross-linking, such as vulcanizing activators or accelerators, may be added; the presence of substances as provided for by note 5(b)(ii) and (iii) is also permitted. However, the presence of any substances not necessary for the cross-linking, such as extenders, plasticizers and fillers, is not permitted;

Thus, in order for the binding agent in the cork product in question to be considered rubber (synthetic rubber), it must meet the criteria expressed in the above chapter notes including the requirement that it be an unsaturated synthetic substance.

Our laboratory reports that the binding agent in the samples submitted is not a rubber. It is a polyurethane type polymer of Chapter 39, based on toluene diisocyanate and polyalkylene ether glycol and does not conform to Note 4 (a) of Chapter 40, HTS.

Based on the findings and conclusions of the Customs laboratory, we conclude that the binder used in the cork product in question is not a rubber; thus, the cork product is not classifiable in subheading 4504.10.1000, HTSUSA.

The applicable subheading for the subject cork product, in sheets or rolls will be 4504.10.5000, HTSUSA, which provides for other agglomerated cork blocks, plates, sheets and strips. The rate of duty will be free.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Section 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 177).

A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If the documents have been filed without a copy, this ruling should be brought to the attention of the Customs officer handling the transaction.


Jean F. Maguire

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