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HQ 959151

June 24, 1996

CLA- RR:TC:FC 959151 ALS


TARIFF NO.: 4016.91.0000

Port Director of Customs
U. S. Customs Service
9901 Pacific Highway
Blaine, WA 98230

RE: Application for Further Review of Protest 3004-96-100006, dated January 1, 1996, Concerning Rubber Sports Mats

Dear Mr. Eberhardt:

This is reference to a protest filed against the decision of November 3, 1995, regarding multiple entries of rubber sports mats.


The rubber sports mats under consideration are made of reclaimed rubber from recycled tire rubber, EDPM rubber granules and a polyurethane binder. Different colored granules are dispersed throughout the mats and give them a speckled appearance. Although no sample was furnished with the protest, a sample from one of the protested entries had interlocking edges.


What is the classification of the subject merchandise? Is the holding in New York Ruling Letter (NYRL) 869627, dated December 18, 1991, issued to the protesting party, applicable to the merchandise which is the subject of this protest?


Classification of merchandise under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) taken in order. GRI 1 provides that the classification is determined first in accordance with the terms of the headings and any relative section and chapter notes. If GRI 1 fails to classify the goods and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI's are applied, taken in order.

In considering the proper classification of the rubber sports mats we noted that the mats would be in subheading 4003.00.0000, HTSUSA, if they were composed of reclaimed rubber in primary forms or in plates, sheets or strip. In order to be so classified the mats would have to meet the requirements specified in Legal note 9 to chapter 40, HTSUSA. That note states, as herein pertinent, that "the expression "plates", "sheets" and "strip" apply only to plates, sheets and strip,..., uncut or simply cut to rectangular (including square) shape, whether or not having the character of articles and whether or not printed or otherwise surface-worked, but not otherwise cut to shape or further worked." (Emphasis added).

A sample of the merchandise taken from one entry was noted to have edges with interlocking tabs. In this regard, we noted that Explanatory Note (2) to heading 40.16 of Harmonized System, which represents the views of the international classification experts, provides that "[F]loor coverings and mats...,other than rectangular (including square) mats cut from plates or sheets of rubber and not further worked than surface-worked.." is covered by that heading.

Since the claimed classification, subheading 4003.00.0000, HTSUSA, is the classification received by the protestant in NYRL 869627, since the company literature indicates that the mats are available with a straight edge or an interlocking edge, and since 2 different model numbers were noted on the protest, further information was requested from the broker during the pendency of this protest for further review as to the nature of the mats covered by the protested entries. The broker has advised us that neither they nor their client can confirm which type of mats were covered by the protested entries. Since the
taken from one of the entries had interlocking edges and since the broker has been unable to document that any of mats covered by the protested entries were other than the interlocking type, we must presume that all of the mats were of that type. While the broker has advised us that invoices submitted with current entries do distinguish between the 2 types of mats, that information does not provide clarification as to the protested entries.

Based on that conclusion, we find that NYRL 869627, referenced in the protest, is inapplicable to the subject merchandise since that ruling covered mats with straight edges. Accordingly, we have concluded that there was no error in the interpretation of that ruling in the liquidation of the subject entries.


Rubber sports mats, with interlocking edges, made from reclaimed rubber are classifiable in subheading 4016.91.0000, HTSUSA, which provides for "Other articles of vulcanized rubber other than hard rubber: Other: Floor coverings and mats." Merchandise so classified was subject to a general rate of duty of 4.8 percent ad valorem in 1995 (currently 4.3 percent ad valorem).

Such articles which are produced entirely in the territory of Canada are eligible for preferential treatment under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) pursuant to General Note 12(b)(I), HTSUSA. Such merchandise is eligible for a special rate of duty. That rate, which was 1.5 percent ad valorem in 1995, is currently 1.0 percent ad valorem.

Since the classification indicated above is the same as the classification under which the entry was liquidated, you are instructed to deny the protest in full.

A copy of this decision should be attached to the Customs Form 19 and provided to the protestant as part of the notice of action on the protest.

In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3553-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, this decision should be provided by your office to the - 4 -
protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entries in accordance with this decision must be accomplished prior to the mailing of the decision. Sixty days from the date of the decision 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
Tariff Classification

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