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NY A89919

December 26, 1996

CLA-2-41:RR:NC:WA:353 A89919


TARIFF NO.: 4104.39.4000

Mr. Donald Stein
Manatt, Phelps & Philips
1501 M Street N.W.
Suite 700
Washington, D.C. 20005-1702

RE: The tariff classification of whole bovine hides from Argentina, Brazil or Uruguay

Dear Mr. Stein:

In your letter dated November 27, 1996, received in our office on December 3, 1996, you requested a tariff classification ruling on behalf of your client Lackawanna Leather Company. A sample swatch of the leather at issue was submitted for examination.

You state that the leather at issue will be whole imported hides which will be used as upholstery leather for furniture by the importer, Lackawanna Leather.

The whole hides, in imported condition, are stated to be "buffed" so that the original grain surface of the hide has been removed as indicated by the the submitted swatch.

The classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) applied, as appropriate, in sequential order. That is, if the item at issue cannot be classified by application of GRI 1, then GRI 2 is applied, and so on. General Rule of Interpretation 1 provides that classification is determined in accordance with the terms of the headings and any relative section and chapter notes. Aiding in the classification of merchandise are the Explanatory Notes (EN's) of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System. The EN's constitute the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level. While they are not legally binding, they are consulted for guidance and accorded appropriate weight in making classification determinations. (See Treasury Decision (T.D.) 89-80, 23 Cust. Bull. 379 (1989), 54 Fed. Reg. 35,127 (August 23, 1989).) From examination of the submitted sample, it appears that the leather, which has been stated to be buffed, is prepared after tanning by this process that consists of further working the leather to render it more supple and to remove any irregularities. There appears to be no surface of the leather which bears the original grain surface.

The Explanatory Notes to the HTS state for Subheading 4104.31 that "For the purposes of subheading 4104.31, the expression full grain and full grain splits' refers to leather bearing the original grain surface as exposed by removal of the epidermis, with none of the surface removed, e.g. by buffing or snuffing." As the submitted sample and the stated condition of the leather in its imported condition indicates, the leather at issue is precluded in classification in subheading 4104.31, HTS.


The applicable subheading for the buffed leather stated to be imported as whole bovine hides will be 4104.39.4000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), which provides for "Other bovine leather and equine leather, parchment -dressed or prepared after tanning: Other: Other: Upholstery leather.". The rate of duty for 1997 will be 3.4 percent ad valorem.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 177).

A copy of the ruling or the control number indicated above should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If you have any questions regarding the ruling, contact National Import Specialist Martin Weiss at 212-466-5881.


Roger J. Silvestri

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