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HQ 560027

February 6, 1997
MAR-05 RR:TC:SM 560027 KKV


Ms. Angel L. Cooper
A.N. Deringer, Inc.
173 W. Service Road
Champlain, NY 12919

RE: Request for a ruling regarding the tariff classification and country of origin marking requirements of certain mens leather and textile belts

Dear Ms. Cooper:

This is in response to your letter dated July 12, 1996, on behalf of Arrow Manufacturing, Inc., which requests a ruling regarding the tariff classification and country of origin marking determination for certain mens' leather and textile belts. A sample has been submitted for our examination.


The article at issue is a braided textile and leather belt referred to as Style No. 97016. We are informed that the braided portion of the belt, the webbing, is comprised of 40 percent leather and 60 percent textile material. The front portion of the belt is leather and the buckle is metal. The leather is sourced in the United States, the buckle is produced in Taiwan and the webbing is manufactured in Italy. All of the component pieces are exported to Montreal, where they are fully assembled into a finished belt.

We are informed telephonically that the textile portion of the webbing is already braided upon importation into Canada. The textile portion of the webbing, classifiable under subheading 5808.10.9000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), is imported from Italy in large rolls and is cut to size in Canada. The leather front and leather portion of the webbing, are made from tanned hides, classifiable under subheading 4101.31.6030, HTSUS, which are imported into Canada where they are cut to shape, stamped and either sewn or woven together with textile material to form webbing.. The metal belt buckle, classifiable under subheading 8308.90.6000, HTSUS, is imported to Canada from Taiwan in a condition ready for assembly.


What is the tariff classification and country of origin of a finished mens leather and textile belt assembled in Canada from components manufactured in the U.S., Italy and Taiwan?


I. Tariff Classification

Articles are classified under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) according to the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that the classification of articles is to be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relevant section or chapter notes and, provided that the headings or notes do not otherwise require, according to the remaining GRIs taken in order.

Because the subject merchandise is composed of textile, leather and metal, the goods are, prima facie, classifiable under three distinct headings: 4203, 6217 and 8303, HTSUS. Therefore, the subject merchandise qualifies as a composite good under GRI 3. Of particular relevance is heading 4203, HTSUS, which covers articles of apparel and clothing or accessories, of leather or composition leather. Heading 6217, HTSUS, covers other made up clothing accessories, parts of garments or of clothing accessories. Neither heading refers specifically to belts, but rather to accessories based upon their constituent materials.

GRI 3 provides, in pertinent part:

(a) The heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description. However, when two or more headings each refer to part only of items in a set put up for retail sale, those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more specific description of the goods.

(b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

In this instance, the subject merchandise is comprised of metal, leather and textile material. The two most relevant headings under consideration, 4203 and 6217, HTSUS, are equally specific in relation to the belt in that each refers to part only of the materials used to make the belt. Consequently, the belt cannot be classified by reference to GRI 3(a). Therefore, GRI 3(b) requires that the article be classified by reference to its essential character. The front leather part of the belt, viewed in conjunction with the leather braiding portion of the webbing is striking, and overshadows the textile component. In terms of bulk and cost, Customs is of the opinion that the leather surpasses the textile material. Inasmuch as the leather imparts the essential character of the belt, the finished article is classifiable under subheading 4203.30.0000, HTSUS, which is the provision for articles of apparel and clothing accessories, of leather or of composition leather: belts and bandoliers with or without buckles.

II. Determination of Country of Origin

Section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), provides that, unless excepted, every article of foreign origin imported into the United States shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly, and permanently as the nature of the article (or its container) will permit, in such a manner as to indicate to the ultimate purchaser in the United States the English name of the country of origin of the article. By enacting 19 U.S.C. 1304, Congress intended to ensure that the ultimate purchaser would be able to know by inspecting the marking on the imported goods the country of which the goods are the product. The evident purpose is to mark the goods so that at the time of purchase the ultimate purchaser may, by knowing where the goods were produced, be able to buy or refuse to buy them, if such marking should influence his will. United States v. Friedlaender & Co., 27 C.C.P.A. 297, 302 C.A.D. 104 (1940).

Section 134.1(b), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.1(b)), defines "country of origin" as:

The country of manufacture, production, or growth of any article of foreign origin entering the United States.
Further work or material added to an article in another country must effect a substantial transformation in order to render such other country the "country of origin" within the meaning of this part; however for a good of a NAFTA country, the NAFTA Marking Rules will determine the country of origin.

Section 134.1(j), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.1(j), provides that the "NAFTA Marking Rules" are the rules promulgated for purposes of determining whether a good is a good of a NAFTA country. Section 134.1(g), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.1(g)), defines a "good of a NAFTA country" as an article for which the country of origin is Canada, Mexico or the United States as determined under the NAFTA Marking Rules, set forth at 19 CFR Part 102. Section 134.45(a)(2) of the Customs regulations (19 CFR 134.45(a)(2)), provides that a "good of a NAFTA country" may be marked with the name of the country of origin in English, French or Spanish.

Section 102.11, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 102.11), sets forth the required hierarchy for determining whether a good is a good of a NAFTA country for marking purposes. This section states that the country of origin of a good is the country in which:

(1) The good is wholly obtained or produced;

(2 The good is produced exclusively from domestic materials; or

(3) Each foreign material incorporated in that good undergoes an applicable change in tariff classification set out in section 102.20 and satisfies any other applicable requirements of that section, and all other applicable requirements of these rules are satisfied.

Section 102.1(e), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 102.1(e)) defines "foreign material" as "a material whose country of origin as determined under these rules is not the same country or origin as the country in which the good is produced."

Here, component parts from the U.S., Italy and Taiwan are exported to Canada for further processing into finished leather and textile belts. Because the belts are processed in Canada of material from the U.S., Italy and Taiwan, the belts are neither wholly obtained or produced, nor produced exclusively from domestic materials. Accordingly, 19 CFR 102.11(a)(3) is the applicable rule that next must be applied to determine the origin of the belt.

Pursuant to 19 CFR 102.11(a)(3), the country of origin of a good is the country in which each foreign material incorporated in that good undergoes an applicable change in tariff classification as set forth in 19 CFR 102.20, or satisfies any other applicable requirement of that section. In the case before us, because the finished belt is classified under subheading 4203.30.0000, HTSUS, the change in tariff classification must be made in accordance with section 102.20(h), Section VIII: Chapters 41 through 43, subheading 4203-4206, HTSUS, which requires "[a] change to headings 42.03 through 42.06 from any other heading, including another heading within the group."

The metal buckle from Taiwan, initially classified under heading 8308, HTSUS, the textile webbing from Italy, initially classified under heading 5808, HTSUS, and the leather comprising the belt front and webbing, initially classified under heading 4104, HTSUS, are subsequently classified under subheading, 4203.30.000, HTSUS, thus undergoing the required tariff shift. Therefore, the country of origin of the finished article is Canada, and it must be marked accordingly.


The submitted leather and textile belt is classifiable under subheading 4203.30.0000, HTSUS, which provides for articles of apparel and clothing accessories, of leather or of composition leather: belts and bandoliers with or without buckles.

On the basis of the information presented, we are of the opinion that, pursuant to section 102.11(a)(3) of the NAFTA Marking rules, the finished leather and textile belts are considered to be a product of Canada and must be marked accordingly.

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


John Durant, Director

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