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HQ 960489

October 10, 1997

CLA-2 RR:TC:TE 960489 GGD


TARIFF NO.: 4202.22.8050

Mr. Alan Siegal
Genghis Khan Freight Service, Inc.
161-15 Rockaway Boulevard
Jamaica, New York 11434

RE: Reconsideration of Port Ruling Letter (PD) B83444; Shoulder Bag with Strap; PD B83444 Correct as to Sample Article Submitted; General Note 19(e), HTSUS; "In Part Of" Braid

Dear Mr. Siegal:

This letter is in response to your request of May 9, 1997, on behalf of your client, Barganza, Inc., for reconsideration of PD B83444, issued April 14, 1997, as it pertains to the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) of a certain shoulder bag made in China or India. A sample of style number 61085 was submitted at the time of the original determination. A separate sample has been submitted with your current request.


In PD B83444, style no. 61085 was one of five shoulder bags classified based upon samples submitted. No braid was found on any of the articles. The five shoulder bags were classified in subheading 4202.22.8050, HTSUSA, textile category 670, the provision for "Handbags, whether or not with shoulder strap, including those without handle: With outer surface of sheeting of plastic or of textile materials: With outer surface of textile materials: Other: Other: Other, Of man-made fibers," with a general column one duty rate of 19.3 percent ad valorem. -2-

With your request for reconsideration, you submitted a separate sample, again identified by style no. 61085. You correctly note that the shoulder strap of this bag is braided, being composed of separate strands of yarn that are mingled in "maypole" fashion. Upon review of the record and the description of the previously submitted sample, we find that PD B83444 is correct based upon the description of the sample bag subject to that ruling. However, this letter additionally provides a binding ruling as to the tariff classification of the shoulder bag with braided shoulder strap, based upon the sample you subsequently submitted.

The sample article, style no. 61085, is a shoulder bag with an outer surface composed of crocheted chenille yarns of man-made fibers. Only the nondetachable shoulder strap is of braided construction. The strap, which measures approximately 45 inches in length, is otherwise made of the same material in the same color and texture as the outer surface of the body of the bag. The bag measures approximately 8 inches in height by 7-1/2 inches in width. Extending across the top of the bag is a zippered closure, which opens to reveal one central compartment.


Whether the presence of a braided strap is sufficient basis upon which to classify the shoulder bag in subheading 4202.22.4030, HTSUSA, the provision for "Handbags...With outer surface of textile materials: Wholly or in part of braid...."


Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI may then be applied. The Explanatory Notes (EN) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which represent the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, facilitate classification under the HTSUS by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRI.

Among other goods, heading 4202, HTSUS, provides for traveling bags, handbags, and similar containers. Since the merchandise is a shoulder bag or handbag, it is covered by the -3-
heading. Subheading 4202.22 (as well as subheadings 4202.21 and 4202.29), HTSUS, covers handbags, whether or not with shoulder strap, including those without handle. Subheading 4202.22.40 (as well as subheading 4202.22.35), HTSUS, provides for handbags having an outer surface of textile materials wholly or in part of braid. The sample bag's outer surface is not wholly of braid. To determine whether it is considered to be "in part of" braid, we first look to General Note 19(e), HTSUS, which in pertinent part states that:
the terms..."in part of", and "containing", when used between the description of an article and a material...have the following meanings:

(ii) "in part of" or "containing" mean that the goods contain a significant quantity of the named material.

With regard to the application of the quantitative concepts specified above, it is intended that the de minimis rule apply.

The de minimis rule provides that an ingredient or component of an article may be ignored for classification purposes depending upon "whether or not the amount used has really changed or affected the nature of the article and, of course, its salability." Varsity Watch Company v. United States, 34 CCPA 155, C.A.D. 359 (1947).

In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 081483, issued April 27, 1989, this office classified a handbag of man-made textile materials with a braided shoulder strap in subheading 4202.22.8050, HTSUSA. Noting that the language of General Note 19(e)(ii), HTSUS (defining the term "in part of" and providing for application of the de minimis rule), is essentially identical to that set forth in General Headnote 9(f)(iv), Tariff Schedules of the United States Annotated (TSUSA), we referred to court cases decided under the TSUS (including Varsity Watch) which interpreted the term "in part of," applied the de minimis rule, and determined whether to ignore the ingredient or component of an article, which would otherwise constitute a significant quantity.

In HQ 081483, we cited to Bantam Travelware v. United States, 11 C.I.T. 893, 679 F. Supp. 8, Slip Op. 87-131 (1987), in which several factors were used to determine whether articles of -4-
luggage containing braided material (not observable to the naked eye) within the handles/straps, were considered to be "in part of" braid. The factors included: the commercial utility of the particular quantity of braided component used in the article, the component's effect on the article's salability, consumer preference, and the relevant trade's recognition of the importance of the component's use. The court found insufficient evidence that the use of braid produced a meaningful advantage as to the product's performance or appearance, and no proof that the use of braid enhanced salability of the goods or that it was preferred by consumers. Evidence as to trade recognition was said to be inconclusive. It was held that the luggage did not contain a commercially significant quantity of braid to be classified as being "in part of braid."

Applying the factors used by the court in Bantam Travelware to the facts of HQ 081483, we found that the handbag with braided shoulder strap did not contain a significant quantity of braided material. It was also found that the handbag's utility was not affected by the strap's braided construction, that there was no indication the braided material affected the article's salability, and that the braided material was not present in a commercially meaningful quantity.

In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 085996, issued March 6, 1990, this office classified four evening bags with braided handles. It was determined that none of the articles contained a sufficiently significant quantity of braid so as to be considered "in part of braid" for classification purposes. We again employed the factors used in Bantam Travelware. Although each of the braided handles measured at least 43 inches in length, it was noted that the braided material comprised a very small percentage of the overall material of each handbag. We found that any advantages possessed by braided handles that might be perceived by consumers were not obvious, and that evidence was unconvincing that handbags with braided handles had demonstrated superior salability. It was further found that the primary function of a handbag - to carry items - could be accomplished without a braided shoulder strap, or without any strap whatsoever. This particular finding as to the importance of any type of strap or handle is supported by, and comports with, the six digit subheading language of 4202.21 through 4202.29, HTS, i.e., "Handbags, whether or not with shoulder strap, including those without handle." See also HQ 084075, issued July 14, 1989, and HQ 083632, issued April 27, 1989. -5-

Customs has, under certain circumstances, classified evening bags with braided shoulder straps as being "in part of braid." In HQ 089386, issued March 18, 1992, we considered the classification of certain ladies' evening bags which had a visibly braided shoulder strap. Counsel for the importer had stressed the importance and desirability of that particular strap, which was said to add to the elegance, utility, and salability of the bag. We agreed that the strap complemented and highlighted the dressy nature of the bag. We noted that the braided form of the strap was extravagant (adding to the expense and complexity of manufacture), and that the strap would likely be used to carry the bag (despite its capacity to be folded inside). In allowing that a braided shoulder strap may affect a handbag's classification in certain limited circumstances, we stated that "[t]he de minimis rule in this case has been satisfied, since a strap on an evening bag is a substantial part of the bag, one which in this instance, affects the nature of the article and distinguishes it for evening or formal wear. In this respect, we agree with your assertions and deem the samples at issue to be wholly or in part of braid.'"

Since circumstances similar to those above are not present in this case, we find that this braided shoulder strap may be ignored for classification purposes. The braided strap is neither extravagant nor dressy, and it provides no indication that the shoulder bag is designed as an article for evening or formal wear. Without severing and unraveling the yarns of the strap, it is difficult to discern that it is of braided construction or even to distinguish the material of which it is constructed from the same-colored, similarly-textured material that composes the outer surface of the handbag.

Considering the factors used by the court in Bantam Travelware, there is little, if any, evidence that the strap's braided construction is a response to consumer preference, that it enhances or affects the handbag's salability, that the small percentage of braid included in the whole article is commercially significant, or that the relevant trade attaches any importance to the use of this type of braided component. In light of the above, we find that the presence of the article's braided component is insufficient to overcome application of the de minimis rule. The shoulder bag is classified as being not "in part of braid." -6-


The shoulder bag with braided shoulder strap, identified by style no. 61085, is classified in subheading 4202.22.8050, HTSUSA, textile category 670, the provision for handbags with outer surface of textile materials. The general column one duty rate is 19.3 percent ad valorem.

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 internal 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 applicable to textile merchandise, you should contact your local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.

PD B83444, issued April 14, 1997, is hereby affirmed.


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