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NY C86589

May 7, 1998

CLA-2-39:RR:NC:TA:350 C86589


TARIFF NO.: 3921.90.1950; 5907.00.6000

Mr. Steven W. Baker
Steven W. Baker and Associates
One Sutter Street, Suite 1004
San Francisco, CA 94104-4919

RE: The tariff classification of two flocked materials for use in polishing computer disks, etc., from Japan.

Dear Mr. Baker:

In your letter dated April 7, 1997, on behalf of Mipox International Corp., Hayward, CA, you requested a classification ruling. The supplier is Mipox, Japan.

Three representative samples were submitted (Exhibits 3,4, and 5). You indicate in your letter that these materials will be imported in large sheets on jumbo rolls (100-300 mm wide x 1,000 m long) and slit to width after their importation into the United States.

The first material, which was not identified as to style or quality number, consists of a woven nylon textile fabric which is coated on one surface with a textile flock (your exhibit 3). This coating application has been achieved by use of electrostatic flocking technology and an acrylic adhesive. You assert that this material is classifiable in subheading 5907.00.6000, which provides for textile fabrics otherwise impregnated, coated or covered, ..., of man-made fibers. In this we agree.

The two additional samples supplied consist of a clear polyethylene teraphthalate plastic (PET) sheeting that has been electrostatically coated on one surface with textile flock using an acrylic adhesive. The samples differ only in width. Exhibit 4 represents the material in its imported condition and Exhibit 5 shows it slit to its final width. Your correspondence indicates that this flock may consist of either nylon, viscose cellulose or polyester man-made fibers and that the flock measures from 0.3 to 1.0 mm in length. We are in agreement that the coating substance on the plastic film or sheet is of a textile flock, which itself is classifiable in tariff subheading 5601.30 as "textile flock". You further indicate that these sheets, in their imported condition, will weigh approximately 170 g/m2 to 200 g/m2 having the following weight breakdown:

Weight of flock: 25-35%
Weight of acrylic adhesive: 30-31%
Weight of PET backing: 36-40%

It is your belief, however, that the flocked coated plastic sheeting constitutes a fabric of nonwoven construction under subheading 5603.14.9090. This tariff item number covers nonwovens of man-made filaments. Flock, per se, in this context, could not be considered to be in filament form there by negating consideration of this tariff subheading. Subheading 5603.94 is the counterpart to a "filament" nonwoven, but is likewise non-applicable for the reasons set forth below.

You do not consider flock to form a nonwoven when combined with the woven textile, but do consider it as such when combined with the plastic film. You put forth several arguments as to why the flock coated plastic film should be considered as a nonwoven under 5603. We are not swayed by these arguments.

Classification under the tariff is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification will be determined by the terms of the headings, and any relative section or chapter notes.

Heading 3921 pertains, in part, to PLASTIC . . SHEETS . . . combined with TEXTILE MATERIAL.
Heading 5603 pertains to NONWOVENS, whether or not . . . coated.
Heading 5907 pertains to TEXTILE FABRICS otherwise . . . coated.

There may be some misunderstanding in the terms "material" and "fabric". In both cases the word "textile" is used as an adjective to describe the type of material and the type of fabric. Fabric is a more specific term involving a type of construction ( nonwover, woven, knit ) in which textile fibers and yarns are used. Whereas textile materials are more general in nature and to some degree "raw" components, such as fibers and yarns, that still must be further processed or manufactured to make a fabric.

The term nonwoven refers to a specialized type of fabric construction. Specifically, the Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Tariff Schedules of the United States Annotated, HTSUSA, describe nonwovens as a material that is generally constructed in three significant manufacturing operations as follows:

1) Web formation which involves carding, extruding, suspending and dispersing as well as the use of various other specialized technologies to form the basic web.

2) Bonding which may involve the application of special chemicals or adhesives such as rubber, gums, starch, glues or plastics in solution or emulsion to hold the fibrous web together.

3) Finishing which may involve the use of dyes, printing, coatings and laminations, etc.

The nonwovens are distinguishable in that they exist unto themselves and can be picked up, moved and processed without disintegrating. The process you describe on coating the plastic film does not create a fibrous web. It is merely a coating method for applying a coating material or substance to the plastic film. It is the exact method you describe in coating the woven nylon textile fabric. This flock coated plastic sheet is not considered to be a nonwoven laminated to a plastic film.

Your material does not meet the definition of a nonwoven fabric as outlined in the tariff and, therefore, no consideration may be given to subheading 5603, as you request.

We concur with your position that the applicable subheading for the woven textile material containing the textile flock will be 5907.00.6000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), which provides for textile fabrics otherwise impregnated, coated, or covered, not laminated, ..., of man-made fibers. The duty rate will be 3.5 percent ad valorem.

The applicable subheading for the flocked PET plastic sheeting coated or combined with a textile "material" is 3921.90.1950, HTS, which provides for other plates, sheets, film, foil and strip, of plastics, combined with a single textile material, weighing not more than 1.492 kg/m2. The duty rate is 5.3 percent ad valorem.

Although these flocked coated materials are used in the polishing of computer disks, there appears to be nothing unique or inherently different in the nature of the various flock substances to distinguish these flock coated materials from similarly coated materials used for wall coverings, upholstery or imitation suede used in presentation or jewelry boxes.

The material classifiable under subheading 5907.00.6000, HTS, falls within textile category designation 229. Based upon international textile trade agreements products of Japan are subject to quota and the requirement of a visa. There are no textile restraints under the 3921.90.1950 subheading.

The designated textile and apparel categories may be subdivided into parts. If so, visa and quota requirements applicable to the subject merchandise may be affected. 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.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 177).

A copy of the ruling or the control number indicated above should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If you have any questions regarding the ruling, contact National Import Specialist George Barth at 212-466-5884.


Robert B. Swierupski

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