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HQ 957995

August 7, 1995

CLA-2 R:C:T 957995 BC


TARIFF NO.: 4602.10.1200

Julia E. Hartenfels
William B. Skinner, Inc.
Hemisphere Center
Route 1 and 9 South
Newark, NJ 07114

RE: Reconsideration of NYRL 866788; classification of a picnic basket made of plaiting materials; other baskets; luggage

Dear Ms. Hartenfels:

Recently, Customs has had occasion to review the matter of classification of picnic baskets and cases made of plaiting materials. We have determined that baskets and cases of the class or kind principally used as picnic baskets are classifiable as "other baskets," rather than as "luggage," under subheading 4602.10, HTSUSA. Consequently, we hereinbelow modify New York Ruling Letter (NYRL) 866788, issued to you on September 24, 1991.


On September 24, 1991, Customs issued NYRL 866788, classifying a picnic basket in subheading 4602.10.2200, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), which provides for luggage of vegetable plaiting materials, of willow. The ruling described the basket as follows: "The submitted sample, item #W098, is a picnic basket constructed of 100% willow with a removable textile man-made lining for easy cleaning." The basket was oval in shape, had a handle that extended over the top center of the basket, and had lift-up flaps on either side.


Whether the picnic basket at issue is classifiable as "other baskets" or as "luggage" under subheading 4602.10, HTSUSA?


For purposes of this discussion, we note that heading 4602, which provides for basketwork, wickerwork, and other articles made directly to shape from plaiting materials, is divided into two major parts: (I) of vegetable materials (4602.10) and (II,) other (4602.90). The relevant first part (4602.10) is divided into four subparts: (1) fishing baskets and creels (4602.10.05); (2) other baskets and bags, whether or not lined (4602.10.07 - 4602.10.18); (3) luggage, handbags and flatgoods (4602.10.21 - 4602.10.29); and (4) other (4602.10.35 - 4602.10.80).


The rationale for classifying picnic baskets as luggage under subheading 4602.10, HTSUSA, was explained in Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 954702, issued on August 16, 1994. That ruling correctly pointed out that the structure of heading 4602, HTSUSA, requires that baskets be classified separately from luggage, handbags, and flatgoods. However, in concluding that the picnic case there at issue was correctly classified as luggage (of plaiting materials), the following was stated: "By specifically listing luggage, handbags and the like'separately from baskets, Congress demonstrated its intent to have articles used for the conveyance of items (which the picnic 'basket' clearly is) classified apart from mere household containers constructed of plaiting materials." This statement implies that, for purposes of classification in heading 4602, HTSUSA, luggage is defined as articles used for the conveyance of items, and baskets are defined as household containers constructed of plaiting materials. We now believe that this definition of "luggage" is too broad, encompassing many articles that are not luggage, and this definition of "baskets" is too narrow, appearing to limit baskets to household containers that do not convey items. The result is a blurring of the heading's structural separation of baskets from luggage.

The definitions put forward in HRL 954702 permitted classification of the picnic basket/case as luggage: A picnic basket or case, being used outside the home, is not a household article, so it could not be classified as a basket; also, since a picnic basket/case is an article that conveys items, it fit the broad definition of luggage. Yet, a close examination of the basket/case there at issue (as well as the picnic basket at issue in NYRL 866788 and picnic baskets/cases generally) reveals that its nature and character are more like those of baskets than of luggage. It is designed and used for carrying food, beverages, and utensils to picnics and picnic-like events (such as a day at the beach or outdoor concert). It is called a picnic basket. It is marketed as a picnic basket. In short, everything about this picnic basket/case, as well as picnic baskets generally, including the basket at issue in NYRL 866788, suggests "basket."

In Royal Cathay Trading Co. V. United States, 45 Cust. Ct. 99, C.D. 2206 (1960), a case where the United States Customs Court rejected Customs classification of suitcases and valises made of plaiting materials as baskets under the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS), the court based its decision on the character of the articles there at issue. The court reasoned that while the suitcases and valises fit the broad definition of "baskets" put forward in United States v. Byrnes & Co., 11 Ct. Cust. Appls. 68, T.D. 38728, the obvious character of these articles precluded their classification as such. The court looked to the nature and use of the articles to determine their character, and concluded that their character was not that of baskets, but was instead that of suitcases and valises.

Applying the rationale of the Royal Cathay opinion to the instant case, and to the matter of picnic baskets and cases generally, we believe that the character of these articles is more like that of baskets and less like that of luggage. Their nature and use establish their character as picnic baskets, rather than as luggage. (See H.J. Stotter, Inc. v. United States, Court No. 92-03-00142, Slip

op. 94-121, July 27, 1994 (CIT), 28 Cust. Bull., No. 33, p. 48, 52, quoting from United States v. Quon Quon Co., 46 CCPA 70, 73, C.A.D. 699 (1959), for the proposition that evidence of use is often highly probative of an article's identity for tariff purposes.)

It is necessary then to set forth an interpretation of heading 4602, HTSUSA, that better distinguishes between baskets and luggage. Thus, we conclude that the "other baskets" subheadings under subheading 4602.10, HTSUSA, provide for all baskets, other than fishing baskets and creels, whether or not they are household articles and whether or not they are used to carry other articles. The "luggage, handbags, and flatgoods" subheadings under subheading 4602.10, HTSUSA, are limited to coverage of the named articles (subject to the ejusdem generis rule of statutory construction). We decline to broadly define luggage for purposes of heading 4602, HTSUSA, as containers used to carry other articles from place to place. To do so is to improperly encompass a wide variety of containers that do not resemble luggage.

Based on the foregoing, we conclude that the picnic basket at issue in NYRL 866788 is classifiable as an other basket of vegetable plaiting materials, rather than as luggage. The precise subheading applicable to the basket depends on its material composition. As stated in the "FACTS" section, the picnic basket here is made of 100% willow.


The picnic basket at issue, classified in NYRL 866788 as luggage of vegetable plaiting materials, is instead classifiable in subheading 4602.10.1200, HTSUSA, as an other basket of vegetable plaiting materials, of willow. The applicable duty rate is 5.8% ad valorem.

Accordingly, NYRL 866788 is hereby modified.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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