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HQ 961504

August 3, 1998

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 961504 jb


TARIFF NO.: 6211.42.0081

Ms. Fiona Chau
Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office
1520 18th St., NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

RE: Modification of Preclassification ruling PC B89273; woman's woven upper body garments; heading 6211, HTSUSA; garments have no defined neckline

Dear Ms. Chau:

This is in regard to your letter requesting a modification of PC B89273, dated October 17, 1997, which addressed the tariff classification of various styles of women's woven upper body garments. Although you have no issue with the tariff classification determinations rendered with respect to two of those styles (21992017G and 21182004HC) , you disagree with respect to referenced style numbers 21182010JB and 21182018JB. As such this letter will only address the latter two styles. Samples were provided to this office for examination and will be returned under separate cover.


The submitted merchandise garments, referenced style numbers 21182010JB (printed) and 21182018JB (solid colored) are made from 100 percent cotton woven fabric and are virtually identical in design. The garments extend from the neck and shoulders to the vicinity of the waist and feature adjustable shoulder straps approximately 1/4 inch in width, two inch side vents and net material at the front neck area. Both the front and back of the garments are cut straight across the top edge ( thus, having no definable neckline) and shaped under the arms.

In PC B89273, both styles 21182010JB and 21182018JB were classified in subheading 6211.42.0056, HTSUSA, in the provision for blouses, shirts and shirt-blouses, sleeveless tank styles and similar upper body garments, excluded from heading 6206, and with respective quota category 341 (blouses). It is your opinion that the subject merchandise should be classified in subheading 6211.42.0081, HTSUSA, which provides for other garments not specifically provided for elsewhere in the tariff, and with respective quota category 359 (basket category) because "both
garments fail to provide sufficient shoulder coverage to the wearer" to be considered women's blouses. In support of this statement you make reference to Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 957255, dated April 14, 1995.


Whether the submitted garments are properly classifiable in subheading 6211.42.0056, HTSUSA, which provides for, cotton blouses, shirts, and shirt-blouses, sleeveless tank styles and similar body garments, excluded from heading 6206, HTSUSA, or subheading 6211.42.0081, HTSUSA, which provides for other women's garments, of cotton, not specifically provided for elsewhere in the tariff?


Classification of merchandise under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that classification 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 6206, HTSUS, provides for women's or girls' blouses, shirts and shirt-blouses. The Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (EN) to heading 6206, HTSUS, state:

This heading covers the group of women's or girls' clothing, not knitted or crocheted, which comprises blouses, shirts and shirt-blouses.

This heading does not cover garments with pockets below the waist or with a ribbed waistband or other means of tightening at the bottom of the garment.

The Guidelines for the Reporting of Imported Products in Various Textile and Apparel Categories (CIE) 13/88, state:

Blouses are outer garments usually extending from the neck or shoulders to the vicinity of the waistline...Blouses may have a collar treatment of any type or no collar. The closure may be positioned on the front, back, or side, or the garment may even be without closure as in a pullover....

Outerwear garments known as camisoles, bandeaus and similar garments which may be described as tops, are excluded from this category.

In general, an analysis relating to "shoulder coverage" is relative only for an issue involving removing an upper body garment from heading 6206, HTSUS, the heading for blouses. In the case at hand, such an analysis is not necessary as a breakout for garments with shoulder straps and limited shoulder coverage is provided for in heading 6211, HTSUS, with the appropriate 341 quota category. Thus, it is not accurate merely to state that because a garment has limited shoulder coverage it should be classified as an "other garment" falling in category 359.

Heading 6211, HTSUS, provides for track suits, ski-suits and swimwear, and other garments. There are two plausible subheadings that may apply to these garments: 6211.42.0056, HTSUSA, which provides for blouses, shirts and shirt-blouses, sleeveless tank styles and similar upper body garments, excluded from heading 6206, HTSUS, and subheading 6211.42.0081, which is a residual "basket" provision for "other garments" that are not more specifically classified elsewhere. Subheading 6211.42.0056, HTSUSA, provides for those garments which are excluded from classification as blouses of heading 6206, HTSUS, but are nonetheless considered "akin" to blouses because they generally provide most (though not all) of the coverage found in the blouses of heading 6206, HTSUS. Garments at this subheading level consist of the following:

1. blouses, shirts and shirt-blouses with pockets, tightening or rib knit waistband;

2. sleeveless tank-styled garments
- featuring a defined neckline ("U", "V", or scooped) - reaching the vicinity of the waist
- providing the wearer with some (though limited) shoulder coverage;

3. similar upper body garments
- garments known as "camisoles" sharing a similar silhouette as heading 6206, HTSUS, blouses - having a defined neckline.

Excluded from subheading 6211.42.0056, HTSUSA, are camisole-type garments without necklines, that is, that are cut straight across the front, garments lacking coverage (other than tank styles) and garments with oversized armholes requiring the wearing of an additional outerwear garment. Women's woven abbreviated garments such as bandeaus, bustiers, midriff baring and other cropped style garments, halters, tubes, camisoles styled like tubes with spaghetti or other narrow straps over the shoulders, have in the past, been classified in the "basket" provision, i.e., subheading 6211.42.0081, HTSUSA. See also, HQ 958168, dated September 21, 1995, classifying similar merchandise in subheading 6211.42.0081, HTSUSA.

As the submitted garments lack a defined neckline and have limited shoulder coverage, that is, consisting only of straps, the garments are properly classifiable in the "basket" provision within heading 6211, HTSUSA, i.e., 6211.42.0081, HTSUSA


The subject garments, referenced style numbers 21182010JB and 21182018JB are classified in subheading 6211.42.0081, HTSUSA, which provides for, track suits, ski-suits, and swimwear; other garments: other garments, women's or girls': of cotton: other. The applicable general column 1 rate of duty is 8.4 percent ad valorem and the quota category is 359.

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 you check, close to the time of shipment, the Status on Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an 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 importing the merchandise to determine the current applicability of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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