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NY B80515

April 21, 1997

CLA-2-87:RR:NC:1:102 B80515


TARIFF NO.: 8708.99.7360; 8483.20.4040

Mr. Stephen L. Gibson
Arent Fox
1050 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036-5339

RE: The tariff classification of a steering column support from Germany

Dear Mr. Gibson:

In your letter dated December 18, 1996 you requested a tariff classification ruling on behalf of your client INA Bearing Company. A meeting was held in February to discuss issues raised in your request and additional information was presented in your letter of March 11, 1997.

The item in question is identified as INA part number F216217 and is described as a steering column support. You state the article is designed and used exclusively as part of an automobile steering column, where its purpose is to provide zero-clearance location and support of the column's central shaft relative to the column's housing. The zero-clearance feature dampens vibration and provides for smooth and consistent rotation of the central column. Technical drawings depicting the design and use of the column support and a sample were submitted with the ruling request.

The column support is an assembly consisting of a radial ball bearing and two plastic rings. The ball bearing consists of a steel outer shell or casing, a set of split steel rings, a steel spring, steel balls and an unground inner steel ring. The inner steel ring serves as the inner race of the bearing, while the set of split rings, together with the outer shell, forms the outer race.

The two plastic rings, identified as the inner and outer "tolerance rings", are press-fitted to the bearing and complete the steering column support assembly. The tolerance rings are specifically designed to accommodate and compensate for the multiple tolerances encountered in the assembly and installation of the steering column into the automobile. Together the plastic rings provide a housing for the bearing which will facilitate mounting and impart the desired fit and feel to the steering column assembly.

The issue raised by your request is whether the steering column support is properly classified under heading 8708, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUSA), as a part or accessory of a motor vehicle, or under heading 8483, as a housed bearing.

The classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1, HTSUSA, 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". The headings in contention are headings 8708 and 8483, HTSUSA.

Heading 8708 provides for "...(p)arts and accessories of the motor vehicles of 8701 to 8705..." Heading 8483 provides for "...bearing housings, housed bearings and plain shaft bearings..." While both headings appear to describe the column support, classification must be determined in accordance with section and chapter notes. Heading 8708 is within Section XVII and Chapter 87, HTSUSA. Heading 8483 is within Section XVI and Chapter 84, HTSUSA.

There are three relevant legal notes. Section XVI, Note 1(l), HTSUSA, excludes articles of Section XVII from classification within Section XVI. Section XVII, Note 2(e), HTSUSA, states that articles of heading 8483 are excluded from Section XVII if the articles constitute integral parts of engines or motors. Section XVII, Note 3, HTSUSA, requires that the term "parts" in chapter 87 refers only to parts which are used solely or principally with the articles of chapter 87.

You state that the column support is designed and used exclusively as part of an automobile steering column. Since the support is used "solely or principally" with motor vehicles and motor vehicles are classified in chapter 87, the column support is a "part" within the meaning of Section XVII, Note 3. Motor vehicles designed for the transport of persons are classified under heading 8703, HTSUSA. As a part that is solely or principally used with articles of heading 8703 the steering column support meets the terms of heading 8708.

Furthermore, Section XVII, Note 2(e) only excludes articles of heading 8483 which are parts of engines or motors from Section XVII. Since the column support is used in a steering assembly and not with engines or motors, it is not excluded from Section XVII by Note 2(e).

The steering column support is clearly an article of Section XVII. Articles of Section XVII are excluded from classification within Section XVI under heading 8483 by Section XVI, Note 1(l).

The applicable subheading for the steering column support will be 8708.99.7360, HTSUSA, which provides for "Parts and accessories of the motor vehicles of headings 8701 to 8705 ... Parts for steering systems ... Other..." The rate of duty will be 2.7 percent ad valorem.

It is the opinion of this office that the steering column support would not be subject to antidumping duties under Department of Commerce orders relating to antifriction bearings. In light of recent determinations by Commerce relevant to automotive components and previous opinions by Customs regarding unground bearings, we consider the column support to be outside the scope of the orders. Should you desire a binding ruling on the applicability of current antidumping duty orders to your merchandise, please write directly to the Department of Commerce, Office of Compliance, Washington, D.C.

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 Kenneth T. Brock at 212-466-5493.


Robert Swierupski
Chief, Metals and Machinery Branch

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