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HQ 958936

OCTOBER 17, 1996

CLA-2 RR:TC:MM 958936 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 8421.29.00

Mark S. Zolno, Esq.
Katten, Muchin & Zavis
525 West Monroe Street, Suite 1600
Chicago, Il 60661-3693

RE: PC 855523 Affirmed; Double Wire Dewatering Press, Twin Wire Press, Pulp Dewatering and Washing Machine; Chapter 84, Note 2, Composite Machine, Principal Function, Section XVI, Note 3, HTSUS; Function, Purpose, Wet Lapping, Pulp Washing; Machinery for Making Pulp of Fibrous Cellulosic Material, Subheading 8439.10.00; Filtering or Purifying Machinery and Apparatus; Noss Company v. United States., 7 CIT 111, HQ 089216

Dear Mr. Zolno:

In a letter, dated February 23, 1996, on behalf of Andritz-Sprout Bauer, Inc., you ask that we reconsider a pre-entry classification ruling issued to an Andritz affiliate company on the classification of a Double Wire Dewatering Press (DWP). Additional arguments were made at meetings in our office on May 14 and September 27, 1996. These meetings were summarized in a submission, dated October 3, 1996.


In PC 855523, issued by the District (now Port) Director of Customs, Dallas/Ft. Worth, on October 1, 1990, the DWP was held to be classifiable in a provision of heading 8421, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), for filtering or purifying machinery and apparatus for liquids.

As described in submitted literature, the DWP utilizes two converging wires to dewater a pulp mat. It consists of three sections or zones: a wedge for forming pulp slurry into a mat, S rolls, and press nips. Pulp slurry is pumped to the DWP's headbox which distributes the slurry evenly in the wedge between the wires, which are two moving webs of tightly meshed wire. The - 2 -
wires slide horizontally over two plastic plates which squeezes water from the slurry and causes a mat to form. The mat then enters the S-roll zone where the wire tension drives the wet mat over two rolls which apply pressure and force more water from the mat. The twin wires then carry the mat to the third and final section where it is further squeezed between stainless steel rolls or press nips. This extracts even more water, thus increasing the consistency of the mat. You refer to the forming of pulp slurry into mats or market pulp as wet lapping, a process that reduces pulp transportation costs. The literature also states the DWP is used in pulp washing, bleaching and thickening applications, all of which involve dewatering operations.

You claim that the DWP is provided for in HTS heading 8439, either as machinery for making pulp of fibrous cellulosic material or as machinery for making paper or paperboard. This claim is based on the assertion that the DWP is made up of three individual machines that perform complementary functions. As such, it is a composite machine under section XVI, note 3, HTSUS, which is to be classified as if consisting of that machine that performs the principal function. You maintain that because the DWP is specifically designed to process pulp slurry into a solid sheet of cellulosic fibers, its principal function as machinery for making pulp of fibrous cellulosic material is described by HTS heading 8439. You note further that wet lappers, or machines in which the pulpy mass of wood fibers is concentrated and formed into sheets is listed in the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding Service Explanatory Notes among those machines encompassed by heading 8439. You claim the Fourdrinier papermaking machine, which is classifiable in subheading 8439.20.00, is a predecessor to the DWP, and that the DWP should be similarly classifiable.

You contend that the DWP is not described by HTS heading 8421 because eliminating water from the slurry describes only one aspect of the DWP, and it is the transformation of the slurry into the web which is its primary objective.

The provisions under consideration are as follows:

8421 ...: filtering or purifying machinery or apparatus, for liquids or gases; parts thereof:

Filtering or purifying machinery or apparatus for liquids:

8421.29.00 Other...2.3 percent ad valorem

8439 Machinery for making pulp of fibrous cellulosic material or for making or finishing paper or paperboard...: parts thereof:

8439.10.00 Machinery for making pulp of fibrous cellulosic material...Free

8439.20.00 Machinery for making paper or paperboard ...Free

Whether the DWP is a composite machine for tariff purposes; whether it is filtering or purifying machinery or apparatus of heading 8421.


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.

The Harmonized Commodity Description And Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding, and therefore not dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System and are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of merchandise under the System. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

Chapter 84, note 2, HTSUS, states that subject to the operation of note 3 to section XVI, a machine or appliance which answers to a description in one or more of the headings 8401 to 8424 and at the same time to a description in one or more of the headings 8425 to 8480 is to be classified under the appropriate heading of the former group and not the latter.

We agree with your statement that ENs at p. 1228 include wet lappers or machines in which pulpy wood fibers are concentrated and formed into sheets among machinery for making pulp of fibrous - 4 -
cellulosic material of heading 8439. However, it is our opinion that the DWP is not a wet lapper; it is but one component in a wet lapping system which would normally include presses, a cutting machine and the DWP which replaces a vacuum filter. In addition, a Fourdrinier papermaking machine performs functions considerably more diverse than the function performed by the DWP, so that the classification of one is not necessarily precedent for classifying the other. Notwithstanding this, the heading 8421 ENs, at p. 1181, state that filtering and purifying machinery of that heading includes liquid filters, one function of which is to eliminate liquids from materials in the form of a slurry. Among the filters covered by heading 84.21 are pressure types. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that eliminating liquids from materials in the form of a slurry is a filtering or purifying operation appropriate to machinery and apparatus of heading 8421. This conclusion is buttressed by references in the submitted literature to the material removed by the DWP as filtrate. Filtrate is typically something passed through a filter. HQ 089216, dated December 17, 1991, addressed the same issues and reached the same result with respect to a pulp washing machine or displacement press. Therefore, while the DWP is arguably described by the ENs to heading 8439, it is most definitely described by the ENs to heading 8421.

The more narrow issue is the interpretation of note 3 to section XVI. In our opinion, the DWP does not perform two or more complementary or alternative functions, as you contend. The submitted literature indicates that in each of the three zones or sections that comprise the DWP - the wedge, the s-roll and the press nips - water is removed from the slurry by squeezing. These are not complementary functions - they are the same function repeated three times. By contrast, relevant ENs, in the third paragraph on p. 1133, give as an example of composite machines an industrial furnace (heading 84.17 or 85.14) combined with lifting or handling machinery (84.28). These machines perform different functions but are classifiable in headings 84.17 or 85.14 because both contribute to the function performed by the furnace. We conclude that by design and function, the DWP is not a composite machine under section XVI, note 3, which renders the remainder of chapter 84, note 2 operative.

On a case-by-case basis, decisions under the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS) - the HTSUS predecessor tariff code - are deemed instructive in interpreting HTS provisions, provided the nomenclature remains unchanged and no dissimilar interpretation is required by the text of the HTSUS. In Noss Company v. United States, 7 CIT 111 (1984), a centrifugal cleaner for removing contaminants from pulp and paper stock, - 5 -
described by the court as a process vital to transforming timber into paper, was held to be classifiable as filtering and purifying machinery and apparatus and not as machines for making cellulosic pulp, paper, or paperboard. The tariff provisions and legal notes in Noss are identical or nearly identical to those in issue here.


For the stated reasons, the Double Wire Dewatering Press (DWP) is not a composite machine as defined in section XVI, note 3, HTSUS. Under the authority of GRI 1, the DWP is provided for in heading 8421. It is classifiable in subheading 8429.21.00, HTSUS.

PC 855523, dated October 1, 1990, is affirmed.


John Durant, Director
Tariff Classification

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