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HQ 957911

July 20, 1995

CLA-2 R:C:T 957911 CAB


TARIFFNO.: 6109.10.0045

Harold I. Loring, Esq.
Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz & Silverman 245 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10167-0002

RE: Classification of a girls' T-shirt; Heading 6109; Country of origin of girls' T-shirt; Section
12.130, Customs Regulations

Dear Mr. Loring:

This is in response to your inquiry of March 28, 1995, requesting a country of origin and tariff classification ruling under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), for a child's T-shirt. Your request is on behalf ofGJM. (HK) Purchasing Ltd. A sample was submitted for examination.


The garment at issue is a child's short sleeve pocket T-shirt. The article has a rib knit crew neck, hemmed sleeves and bottom, and an embroidered image of Mickey Mouse above the pocket. We are assuming for ruling purposes that the article is constructed of 100 percent cotton material.

The manufacturing process for the subject garment is as follows: Knit fabric from China will be imported into Honduras without any cutting lines or lines of demarcation and cut into a back panel, sleeves, a neck band, and pocket. The front panel will be precut and machine-embroidered in China. Assembly of all of the components into a completed T-shirt will be performed in Honduras.


I. What is the proper tariff classification for the subject garment?

II. What is the country of origin for the subject garment?


Classification of goods under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of
Interpretation (GRI' s). GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. Merchandise that cannot be classified in accordance with GRI 1 is to be classified in accordance with subsequent GRI's taken in order.


Heading 6109, HTSUSA, is the provision for T-shirts, singlets, tank tops and similar garments, knitted or crocheted. The garment at issue is a child' s T-shirt which fits squarely within the provision of Heading 6109, HTSUSA. Therefore, the garment at issue is classifiable under Heading 6109, HTSUSA.


Country of origin determinations for textile products are subject to Section 12.130,
Customs Regulations (19 CFR 12.130). Section 12.130 provides that a textile product that is processed in more than one country or territory shall be a product of that country or territory where it last underwent a substantial transformation. A textile product will be considered to have undergone a substantial transformation if it has been transformed by means of subsequent manufacturing or processing operations into a new and different article of commerce.

Section 12.130(d), Customs Regulations, sets forth criteria for determining whether a substantial transformation of a textile product has taken place. This regulation states these criteria are not exhaustive; one or any combination of criteria may be determinative, and additional factors may be considered.

Section 12.130(d)( 1 ), Customs Regulations, states that a new and different article of commerce will usually result from a manufacturing or processing operation if there is a change in:

(i) Commercial designation or identity, (ii) Fundamental character or (iii) Commercial use.

Section 12.130(d)(2), Customs Regulations, states that for determining whether merchandise has been subjected to substantial manufacturing or processing operations, the following will be considered:

(i) The physical change in the material or article;

(ii) The time involved in the manufacturing or processing operation;

(iii) The complexity of the manufacturing or processing operation;

(iv) The level or degree of skill and/or technology in the manufacturing or processing operations; and

(v) The value added to the article or material.

Section 12.130(e)(1), Customs Regulations, describes manufacturing or processing operations from which an article will usually be considered a product of the country in which those operations occurred. Section 12.130(e)(1)(iv), Customs Regulations, specifically provides that the cutting of fabric into parts and the assembly of those parts into the completed article will be a manufacturing operation that will usually result in an article being considered a product of the country in which those operations occurred.

According to T.D. 85-38, the final document rule establishing 19 CFR 12.130:

The assembly of all the cut pieces of a garment usually is a substantial manufacturing process that results in an article with a different name, character, or use than the cut pieces. It should be noted that not all assembly operations of cut garment pieces will amount to a substantial transformation of those pieces. Where either less than a complete assembly of all the cut pieces of a garment is performed in one country, or the assembly is a relatively simple one, then Customs will rule on the particular factual situation as they arise, utilizing the criteria in Section 12.130(d).

In this instance, the front panel of the subject garment is cut and machine-embroidered in China. The cutting of the front panel in China materially alters the fabric into a designated garment piece and substantially transforms the fabric into a new and different article of commerce. In Honduras, the back panel, sleeves, neckband, and pocket are cut and the garment pieces are assembled into the completed T-shirt. This cutting process similarly serves to substantially transform the fabric into designated garment pieces. The assembly operations completed in Honduras are mere combining and sewing operations and do not possess the requisite degree of complexity to be considered a substantial manufacturing operation.

Customs has consistently determined that cutting fabric into garment pieces constitutes a substantial transformation of the fabric and the clothing pieces become products of the country where the fabric is cut. (See, Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 95253 1, dated November 25,
1992, and HRL 089539, dated April 22, 1992).

Customs has also long held that the mere assembly of goods entailing simple combining operations, trimming or joining together by sewing is not enough to substantially transform the components of an article into a new and different article of commerce. (See, HRL 082787, dated March 9, 1989, and HRL 082747, dated February 23, 1989).

If assembly to completion of various components is not sufficient to constitute a substantial transformation within the purview of Section 12.130, Customs Regulations, and the

component parts of an article have been substantially transformed prior to assembly in different countries, a different test must be applied to determine the country of origin status of the garment. In Customs Memo 088778, dated March 25, 1991, this office determined that in manufacturing situations which are not covered by 19 CFR 12.130, a country of origin determination shall be predicated on the portion of the article which imparts the essential character to the garment. Explanatory Note VIII to GRI 3(b) which sets forth the standards used in an essential character determination, states the following:

The factor which determines essential character will vary as between different kinds of goods. It may, for example, be determined by the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of the constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

In this case, neither tile embroidered front panel nor the back panel combined with the sleeves, neckband, and pocket imparts the essential character to the T-shirt at issue. Both of the major components, the front and back panels, are constructed of the same fabric and perform similar functions. Moreover, the presence of the embroidered Mickey Mouse design is not significant enough to warrant a finding that the front panel imparts the essential character of the subject garment.

Customs Memo 088778 further provides that in situations where no one component imparts the essential character of a garment, country of origin will be determined according to the component which governs the classification of the garment. This is determined using GRI 3(c), which states that the heading occurring last in numerical order among those equally meriting consideration will govern classification. The country of origin of the component which governs classification using GRI 3(c) will also determine the country of origin for the entire article. In this case, however, as both major components are made from the same fabric, there are no competing headings and as such, GRI 3(c) is not useful in this situation.

Customs was faced with a similar manufacturing operation for a girls' top at issue in HRL 954961, dated November 2, 1993. The manufacturing process involved in HRL 954961 was as follows: Fabric was knit in China, the front panel of the top was cut in China, and an applique was attached in that country. These designated garment pieces were then transported to St. Lucia where the back panel and collar were cut and the garment pieces were assembled into the completed garment. Customs stated the following:

In situations where components are manufactured in different countries, the manufacturing process does not constitute a substantial transformation, and no one component determines the classification of the article, Customs will determine the country of origin on the basis of where the article last underwent a significant processing operation. * * * In the manufacturing scenario presented to this office in HRL 953708, the girls' top last undergoes a significant processing operation in St. Lucia as this is the country where the last cutting occurs and where virtually all of the cut pans, with the exception of the flower

applique, are sewn and assembled into completed articles. While this manufacturing scenario does not constitute a substantial transformation for purposes of 19 CFR 12.130, it nevertheless is deemed complex enough to confer country of origin to an article in situations that fall outside of the scope of Section 12.130. It is using this standard that we determine St. Lucia to be the country of origin of the girls' top.

Using the standard set forth in HRL 954961, the instant article is a product of Honduras, as this is the country where the last Cutting operation takes place as well as the sewing and assembly operation into the completed article.


The T-shirt at issue is classifiable in subheading 6109.10.0045, HTSUSA, which provides for girls' knitted or crocheted T-shirts, of cotton. The applicable rate of duty is 20.6 percent ad valorem and the textile restra'mt category is 339.

The designated textile and apparel category may be subdivided into parts. If so, visa and quota requirements applicable to the subject merchandise may be affected. Since part categories are the result of international bilateral agreements which are subject to frequent renegotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available, we suggest that you check, close to the time of shipment, The Status Report on Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an intemal issuance of the U.S. Customs Service, which is available for inspection at your local Customs office.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories, you should contact your local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.

The country of origin of the T-shirt at issue is Honduras.

The holding set forth above applies only to the specific factual situation and merchandise identified in the ruling request. This position is clearly set forth in section 177.9(b)(1), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 177.9(b)(1)). This section states that a ruling letter is issued on the assumption that all of the information furnished in connection with the ruling request and incorporated in the ruling letter, either directly, by reference, or by implication is accurate and complete in every material respect. Should it subsequently be determined that the information fumished is not complete and does not comply with 19 CFR 177.9(b)(1 ), the ruling will be subject
to modification or revocation. In the event there is a change in the facts previously furnished, this may affect the determination of country of origin. Accordingly, it is recommended that a new ruling request be submitted in accordance with section 177.2, Customs Regulations.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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