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HQ 960997

June 18, 1998

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 960997 GGD


TARIFF NO.: 3924.10.50

Ms. Sandy M. Rickert
E. Besler & Company
Post Office Box 66361
Chicago, Illinois 60666-0361

RE: Portable, Soft-Sided, Insulated Cooler Bag; SGI, Incorporated v. United States, 122 F.3d 1468 (Fed. Cir. 1997); Outer Surface of Plastics

Dear Ms. Rickert:

This letter is in response to your request of September 15, 1997, on behalf of your client, LTD Commodities, Inc., concerning the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) of a soft-sided, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), insulated cooler bag manufactured in either Taiwan or China. A sample was submitted with your request.


The sample, described as a "Tote/Organizer," is a portable, soft-sided, insulated cooler bag that is primarily designed to store and preserve food and/or beverages. The bag measures approximately 9 inches in height by 17 inches in width by 8-1/2 inches in depth, and is fitted on the interior of the lid with open mesh pockets. Although said to have an outer surface composed of nylon, both the outer surface and inner lining of the sample bag (which is waterproof) are composed of PVC plastics. The PVC outer surface is embossed to resemble nylon material. Between the two layers of PVC is a layer of cellular plastic foam insulation material. The bag has a carrying strap of woven polypropelene and a zippered closure extends around the top flap on three sides. There are two open pockets extending the full width of the front and back of the bag's exterior.


Whether the portable, soft-sided, insulated cooler bag is classified under heading 4202, HTSUS, as a container used to organize, store, protect and carry various items; or under heading 3924, HTSUS, as a container with outer surface of plastics to which the principles of the decision in SGI, Incorporated v. United States apply.


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.

The classification of certain portable, soft-sided, insulated cooler bags with outer surface of plastics, was recently examined by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in SGI, Incorporated v. United States, 122 F.3d 1468 (Fed. Cir. 1997). The CAFC focused on whether food or beverages were involved with the eo nomine exemplars set forth in the tariff provisions at issue and, without discussion of heading 4202 exemplars that organize, store, protect, and/or carry food or beverages, the CAFC held that the appropriate classification for the cooler bags was subheading 3924.10.50, HTSUS, the provision for "Tableware, kitchenware, other household articles...of plastics: Tableware and kitchenware: Other." The Court stated that this classification "does encompass exemplars that are ejusdem generis with the coolers because their purpose is to contain food and beverages." The exemplars (specifically enumerated in subheading 3924.10.10) which the Court noted in particular were the "various household containers for foodstuffs such as salt, pepper, mustard, and ketchup dispensers and serving pieces for food."

This office concluded that the CAFC's decision in SGI should be implemented. Instructions were issued to Customs field personnel on March 18, 1998 (and approved for dissemination to members of the importing community), which expressly extended the
principles of the CAFC's decision to portable, hard or soft-sided, insulated coolers and similar insulated containers with outer surface of plastics or with outer surfaces composed in whole or in part of textile materials (the latter of which are classified in subheading 6307.90.99, HTSUS); and to such articles that feature exterior or interior pockets, webbing, straps, etc., for the purpose of containing items in addition to foodstuffs, provided that the additional features do not alter the container's primary purpose to store and preserve food and/or beverages.

In light of the principles of the SGI decision and the instructions noted above, we find that the bag's interior mesh pockets and exterior open pockets do not alter the insulated container's primary purpose to store and preserve food and/or beverages. The bag is similar to the soft-sided, insulated cooler bags that were the subject of the CAFC's decision in SGI. The "Tote/Organizer" is therefore classified in subheading 3924.10.50, HTSUS.


The portable, soft-sided, PVC, insulated cooler bag identified as the "Tote/Organizer" is classified in subheading 3924.10.50, HTSUS, the provision for "Tableware, kitchenware, other household articles...of plastics: Tableware and kitchenware: Other." The general column one duty rate is 3.4 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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