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HQ 959173

SEPTEMBER 10, 1996

CLA-2 RR:TC:MM 959173 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 8708.99.80

Rufus E. Jarman, Esq.
Barnes, Richardson & Colburn
475 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10016

RE: Automotive Multifunction Controls; Automotive Wiring Harness; Electrical Apparatus for Supplying Electricity to Working Parts of Automobiles; Switching Apparatus, Heading 8536, Apparatus for Electric Control or Distribution of Electricity, Heading 8537; Other Parts and Accessories of Motor Vehicles, Heading 8708; Section XVI, Note 1(l), Section XVII, Note 2(f); HQ 088477, HQ 958635

Dear Mr. Jarman:

In a letter, dated March 21, 1996, supplemented on August 8, 1996, on behalf of ITT Automotive, you inquire as to the tariff classification of automotive multifunction controls from Mexico. Technical descriptions, samples and a drawing were submitted.


Your request relates to six (6) automotive multifunction controls (AMCs) that are covered by three (3) samples which represent the basic models under consideration. Each model represents two styles which have slight cosmetic variations. The samples are assemblies that consist of numerous insulated electrical wires encased in a plastic housing, each having as few as two or as many as seven plugs, sockets, contacts and similar electrical devices. Each AMC functions differently, depending on which vehicle subsystem is being controlled. For example, for the cruise control, an AMC may provide input to a microprocessor located elsewhere in the vehicle, whereas it may provide direct control in the case of driving lamps.

AMCs designated parts 26054725 and 26047287 have the appearance of wiring harnesses and are incorporated into the steering column of an automobile. They control the windshield wipers, headlights, emergency flasher, turn signals and with respect to the first part, the cruise control. Control assemblies designated parts 26030601 and 26030593 are similar, and in both instances regulate cruise control. Control assemblies designated parts 26030600 and 22648265 consist of a control arm connected to a plastic housing but no wiring harness. They control windshield wipers, headlights and turn signals. Four of the six control assemblies include wiring harnesses and fifteen-way or seventeen-way connectors.

You maintain that the AMCs are potentially classifiable in any of three provisions, heading 8536, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), electrical switching apparatus, HTS heading 8537, other bases for electric control or the distribution of electricity, or HTS heading 8708, other parts of motor vehicles. You cite Universal Electronics, Inc. v. United States, Slip Op. 96-48 (Ct. Int'l Trade, decided March 7, 1996) on heading 8537 and several rulings classifying related articles under each provision.

The provisions under consideration are as follows:

8536 Electrical apparatus for switching or protecting electrical circuits, or for making connections to or in electrical circuits (for example, switches, relays, fuses, surge suppressors, plugs, sockets, lamp-holders, junction boxes)...:

8536.50 Other switches:

8536.50.80 Other...4.3 percent ad valorem

8537 ...[o]ther bases, equipped with two or more apparatus of heading 8535 or 8536, for electric control or the distribution of electricity:

8537.10 For a voltage not exceeding 1,000 V:

8537.10.90 Other...4.3 percent ad valorem

8708 Parts and accessories of the motor vehicles of headings 8701 to 8705:

8708.99 Other:

8708.99.80 Other...2.9 percent ad valorem


Whether the AMCs are goods of headings 8536 or 8537.


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.

Articles of Section XVII are excluded from Section XVI, which includes headings 8536 and 8537. Section XVI, Note 1(l), HTSUS. For purposes of heading 8708, the expression "parts" and "parts and accessories" do not apply to electrical machinery or equipment (Chapter 85). Section XVII, Note 2(f), HTSUS. Therefore, if the AMCs, or any of them, are goods of headings 8536 or 8537, or any other heading of chapter 85, they cannot be classified in heading 8708.

Heading 8536 provides in part for electrical switching apparatus for making or breaking one or more circuits in which they are connected, or for switching from one circuit to another, as well as apparatus used to connect together the various parts of an electrical circuit. The technical literature contains numerous references to switches, contacts and circuits, all of which appear in some way to facilitate the sending of electrical signals, either directly to a particular subsystem, or indirectly to control devices that regulate the subsystem. While the AMCs under consideration undoubtedly incorporate some kind of switching apparatus, the available information does not permit us to confirm this or to determine if the assemblies contain other electrical components that perform functions appropriate to goods of another heading. - 4 -

Goods of heading 8537 are for electric control or the distribution of electricity. Once again, we are unable to confirm whether the subject AMCs are equipped with two or more of the apparatus of headings 8535 or 8536, mounted on a board, panel, console, etc.

This office does not disagree that the ultimate function of these assemblies is to control the flow of electricity. However, the configuration of any particular AMC, and the manner of operation, is critical in determining its classification. HQ 088477, dated May 9, 1991, recognized that not all wiring harness assemblies are classified alike. This ruling addressed similar merchandise provided for in HTS heading 8544, insulated electric conductors, whether or not fitted with connectors, a provision you have not discussed. HQ 958653, dated April 15, 1996, held that automotive wiring harnesses which are essentially insulated conductors with connectors remain in heading 8544 even if they possess other electric components, provided the entire assembly facilitates the conduction of electricity. For the reasons stated above, we are unable to fully assess the applicability of heading 8544.

The available information does not permit us to determine whether or if the AMCs are provided for in any heading of Chapter 85. Because these assemblies appear to be identifiable as suitable for use solely or principally with automobiles of heading 8703, and are not otherwise excluded from Section XVII, they are provided for in heading 8708, which is the only heading that describes these assemblies in their condition as imported.


Under the authority of GRI 1, the automotive multifunction controls (AMCs) designated parts 26054725, 26047287, 26030601, 26030593, 26030600 and 22648265 are provided for in heading 8708. They are classifiable in subheading 8708.99.80, HTSUS.

This ruling is based on the information available to us at this time. As additional information on these assemblies comes to our attention, we may have reason to reconsider our position.


John Durant, Director
Tariff Classification
Appeals Division

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