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HQ 960134

December 15, 1997
CLA-2 RR:TC:TE 960134 jb


TARIFF NO.: 6109.10.0060; 6109.90.8030

Suzanne B. Barnett, Esq.
Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz & Silverman 245 Park Avenue, 33rd Floor
New York, NY 10167-3397

RE: Classification of women's knitwear; tank top; heading 6109, HTSUSA

Dear Ms. Barnett:

This is in reply to your letter, dated January 13, 1997, on behalf of Mast Industries, Inc., regarding the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) of certain women's knitwear.


The merchandise at issue consists of two styles of women's knitwear separately classified in two rulings. Both garments, referenced styles AK8737 and 8737, are constructed from 2 by 2 rib knit fabric and feature shoulder straps measuring less than two inches, front and back square necklines, a straight bottom and a tank top silhouette (i.e., drop at the neckline, front and back, and deep armholes to form narrow straps). The only difference between the two garments is the fiber content; style AK8737 is constructed of 100 percent cotton knit fabric and style 8737 is constructed of 55 percent ramie and 45 percent cotton knit fabric.

In Port Decision (PD) A86163, dated September 5, 1996, style AK8737 was classified as a pullover in heading 6110, HTSUS. Subsequently, in PD A88767, dated November 13, 1996, the virtually identical garment, style 8737, was classified as a tank top in heading 6109, HTSUS. In your submission you request that this office reconcile these clearly inconsistent rulings.


Whether the garments are properly classified in heading 6109, HTSUSA, in the provision for tank tops, or in heading 6110, HTSUSA, in the provision for pullovers?


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

Heading 6109, HTSUS, provides for, among other things, tank tops. As the term "tank top" is neither defined in the Legal Notes to the HTSUS nor in the corresponding Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (EN), we look to the Guidelines for the Reporting of Imported Products in Various Textile and Apparel Categories, CIE 13/88 (1988), (herein Guidelines) for assistance. The term "tank top" as defined in the Guidelines state:

...sleeveless with oversized armholes, with or without a significant drop below the arm. The front and the back may have a round, V, U, scoop, boat, square or other shaped neck which must be below the nape of the neck. The body of the garment is supported by straps not over two inches in width reaching over the shoulder. The straps must be attached to the garment and not be easily detachable.
Bottom hems may be straight or curved, side-vented, or of any other type normally found on a blouse or shirt, including blouson or drawstring waists or an elastic bottom. The following features would preclude a garment from consideration as a tank top:

1) pockets, real or simulated, other than breast pockets;
2) any belt treatment including simple loops; 3) any type of front or back neck opening (zipper, button, or otherwise).

This definition is consistent with the definition found in Charlotte Mankey Calasibetta's Essential Terms of Fashion (1986) at 221:

Similar to men's undershirt with U-neckline and deep armholes, shaped toward shoulder to form narrow straps; named for tank suit...

Heading 6110, HTSUS, provides for, sweaters, pullovers, sweatshirts, waistcoats (vests) and similar articles, knitted or crocheted. As "pullover" is not defined in the Guidelines, we look to other sources. Those sources define a pullover garment as:
a sweater with a round, crew, or V-neck, pulled over the head, as contrasted with a cardigan or coat sweater, which opens down the front. Also called pull-on or slip-on sweater. Charlotte Mankey Calasibetta, Essential Terms of Fashion at 211, (1986).
garment that pulls over the head. Usually, a blouse or sweater. Mary Brooks Picken,
The Fashion Dictionary at 291, (1973).

Before a determination can be made classifying a garment as a "tank top", certain basic features must be present. The fundamental features of a "tank top" require a drop below the neckline front and back, as well as deep armholes in order to form narrow straps. These features are critical in creating the silhouette which is the distinguishing characteristic of the tank top. In comparing the definitions of "tank top" and "pullover", it is clear that the physical characteristics of the subject merchandise are consistent with the above definitions of a tank top. Furthermore, the garments lack any features which would preclude a garment from being classified as a tank top.

Accordingly, both garments, referenced styles AK8737 and 8737, are properly classified as tank tops in heading 6109, HTSUS. PD A86163 is revoked to reflect the proper classification of this merchandise in heading 6109, HTSUS.


Style AK8737 is classified in subheading 6109.10.0060, HTSUSA, which provides for T-shirts, singlets, tank tops and similar garments, knitted or crocheted: of cotton: women's or girls': tank tops: women's. The applicable rate of duty is 19.6 percent ad valorem and the quota category is 339.

Style 8737 is classified in subheading 6109.90.8030, HTSUSA, which provides for , singlets, tank tops and similar garments, knitted or crocheted: of other textile materials: other: women's or girls': other. The applicable rate of duty is 16.7 percent ad valorem and the quota category is 838.

The designated textile and apparel category may be subdivided into parts. If so, the 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 internal issuance of the U.S. Customs Service which is updated weekly and is available at the 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 the local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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