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HQ 960469





October 24, 1997

CLA-2 RR:TC:TE 960469 RH

CATEGORY: CLASSIFICATION

TARIFF NO.: 4412.99.9590

Mr. Tony Collini
John S. Connor, Inc.
The World Trade Center
401 E. Pratt Street, Suite 700
Baltimore, MD 21202

RE: Laminated veneer lumber; builders'carpentry; joinery; heading 4412; heading 4418; glulam;

Dear Mr. Collini:

This is in reply to your letters dated April 26, 1996, and July 18, 1997, on behalf of McCausey Wood Products, Inc., requesting a ruling on the classification of wood products. As we informed you in our letter, reference number 959277, dated February 13, 1997, we were unable to rule on your first request because of a pending case before the Court of International Trade. That case was recently dismissed and we are now able to issue a ruling letter concerning your client's product.

In this ruling, however, we will also consider the information submitted in the initial request.

FACTS:

The merchandise under consideration is "MASTER PLANK." It is known in the trade as laminated veneer lumber (LVL), which is made of veneers laminated together to form panels of various thicknesses with the grain of each veneer running in the same direction. The manufactured lumber in this case is cut to various lengths ranging from 8 to 40 feet. You state that the MASTER PLANK has many uses and is limited only by the creativeness of the ultimate consumer.

You further state that your client has been importing the wood in question for twenty-five years under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), which became effective January 1, 1989, and its predecessor, the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS), as laminated veneer lumber. On January 20, 1990, however, Customs issued Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 086255 and HQ 086256, which classified LVL as builders'carpentry of heading 4418, HTSUSA.

You maintain that the LVL wood is classifiable as veneer panels under subheading 4412.99.9590, HTSUSA.

ISSUE:

Whether the LVL is classifiable as other veneer panels under heading 4412, HTSUSA, or as builders' carpentry under heading 4418, HTSUSA?

LAW AND ANALYSIS:

Classification of goods under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings, and any relative section or chapter notes. Heading 4412 provides for "Plywood, veneered panels and similar laminated wood." The products under this heading are characterized by the presence of wood veneer layers or plies which are laminated together.

The Explanatory Notes (EN) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (Harmonized System) constitute the official interpretation of the scope and content of the nomenclature at the international level. They represent the considered views of classification experts of the Harmonized System Committee. While not treated as dispositive, the EN are to be given considerable weight in Customs interpretation of the HTSUSA. It has, therefore, been the practice of the Customs Service to consult the terms of the EN when interpreting the HTSUSA.

The EN to heading 4412 state, in part, that heading 4412 does not cover massive products such as laminated beams and arches (so-called glulam' products) (generally heading 44.18). [Emphasis in original].

In HQ 086255 and 086356, we held that laminated veneer lumber produced in thicknesses of 3/4 inch to 2 « inches and in lengths of 8 to 60 feet was not classifiable in heading 4412 as it did not meet the description of plywood, veneered panels or similar laminated wood. We stated that LVL was not plywood because the plies were parallel rather than at an angle, and that it was not veneered panels as described in the EN because such panels consist of a thin veneer of wood affixed to a base, usually of inferior wood. - 3 -

The pertinent portion of those rulings reads as follows:

[I]t is clear that LVL is a structural lumber product that is used in a variety of load-bearing applications in the construction industry. It is a highly engineered product which is designed in many instances as a direct substitute for glue laminated timber. The Explanatory Notes to heading 4418 specifically provide that the term builders' carpentry includes glulam. In view of the similarity as to use between glulam and LVL and its use as a structural lumber product generally, we find that LVL is properly classifiable in heading 4418.

We agree that LVL is not constructed like plywood. Like veneer panels, however, the critical feature of LVL is that it is composed of laminated veneers. Glulam, on the other hand, is made from lumber that is face and edge glued together to form massive products. In HQ 088292, dated February 21, 1991, we held that glulam is a particular type of structural timber product obtained by gluing together a number of wood laminations in a certain way to provide structural strength. Special construction, dimension and load bearing capacity are all features of glulam.

LVL does not have any recognizable features which dedicate and limit its use to the construction of buildings. Although LVL may be used for that purpose, it is a multiple use wood material similar to plywood panels, lumber boards and other wood boards. Your client lists various uses for the LVL. For example, it may be used in many nonstructural applications such as scaffolding, planks, concrete forming, core material for windows and door manufacturing, furniture manufacturing, truck flooring, ladder rails, etc. Like lumber, it may be cut to many sizes and further manufactured for a variety of uses.

Based on the foregoing, the expertise of the Customs National Import Specialist and the photographs and literature concerning the merchandise, we find that LVL is a multi-use product with a construction similar to a veneer panel. Accordingly, it is classifiable in subheading 4412.99.9590, HTSUSA.

HOLDING:

The MASTER PLANK LVL is classifiable under subheading 4412.99.9590, HTSUSA, which provides for "Plywood, veneered panels and similar laminated wood: Other: Other: Other: Other." It is dutiable at the general column rate at 1.6 percent ad valorem.

Sincerely,

John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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