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HQ 950520

FEBRUARY 13, 1992

CLA-2:CO:R:C:M 950520 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 8544.59.20, HTSUS

District Director of Customs
International & Terrace Sts.
Nogales, Arizona 85621

RE: Silver Plated Copper Wire; Insulated Wire of Copper; Electrical Conductors of Copper

Dear Sir:

This is our decision on Application for Further Review of Protest No. 2604-90-000026, dated October 26, 1990, filed by counsel for Thermax Wire Corporation. The merchandise in issue is silver plated copper conductor wire from Mexico. No samples or descriptive literature have been submitted.


The merchandise is silver-plated copper wire. It is an electrical conductor wire plated with silver and insulated with teflon. The method of plating is not described. The wire is identified as being used in highly technical military and commercial aircraft components, among other applications.

It is your belief that the electric current is primarily channeled through the copper and that the silver merely enhances the wire's conductivity due to its anti-corrosiveness. You therefore liquidated the entries in issue under the provision for other electric conductors, for a voltage exceeding 80 V but not exceeding 1,000 V, of copper, in subheading 8544.59.20, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).

Protestant argues that the wire is to be classified according to its essential character, which he claims is the silver plating because of its higher cost and because its anti-corrosive quality enhances the conductivity of the copper. Subheading 8544.59.40, other electric conductors, other, is said to represent the proper classification. - 2 -


Whether insulated silver plated copper wire is classifiable according to its essential character.


Merchandise is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 states in part that for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6.

GRI 6 states in part that for legal purposes, the classification of goods in the subheadings of a heading shall be determined according to the terms of those subheadings and any related subheading notes and, by appropriate substitution of terms, to GRIs 1 through 5, on the understanding that only subheadings at the same level are comparable. For the purposes of Rule 6, the relative section, chapter and subchapter notes also apply, unless the context requires otherwise.

The subheadings of heading 8544 that are in contention are at the same level. Therefore, by appropriate substitution of terms, the GRIs must be applied sequentially at the subheading level.

Pursuant to GRI 2(b), the classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be according to the principles of rule 3. The wire is, prima facie, classifiable under two subheadings each of which refers to part only of the materials or substances in mixed or composite goods. These subheadings are to be regarded as being equally specific. Pursuant to GRI 3(b), composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if consisting of the material or component which gives them their essential character.

The factor that determines essential character will vary with the goods. It may be the nature of the component or material, its value, or its role in relation to the use of the goods. The argument is that the silver imparts the essential character to the goods because it improves conductivity and dedicates the wire for highly technical military and commercial aircraft applications for which plain copper conductor wire would be unsuitable. Its value also greatly exceeds that of the - 3 -
copper. Heading 8544 provides for wires and cables that are insulated electric conductors. Counsel concedes that the copper serves as the conductor. The silver's anti-corrosive quality merely enhances conductivity. In fact, copper conductor wires are quite common whereas no known silver conductor wires are believed to exist. It is therefore the copper that establishes the identity of the goods as electric conductors. Copper, therefore, imparts the essential character to the goods.


Under the authority of GRI 3(b), applied at the subheading level through GRI 6, the insulated silver plated copper conductor wire is classifiable in subheading 8544.59.20, other electric conductors of copper.

The protest should be denied. A copy of this decision should be attached to the Customs Form 19 and forwarded to protestant, through counsel, as part of the notice of action on the protest.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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