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NY D80250

July 29, 1998

CLA-2-42:RR:NC:3:353 D80250


TARIFF NO.: 4203.30.0000

Mr. Vincent Trovato

All Nations Forwarding Import Co.,Inc.

One Cross Island Plaza

Jamaica, NY 11422

RE: The tariff classification of a belt from Taiwan.

Dear Mr. Trovato:

In your letter dated July 13, 1998, on behalf of Max Leather Group, Inc., you requested a tariff classification ruling.

The submitted sample, called a viscose belt with backing, is composed of a woven man-made fiber fabric, which resembles a vegetable fiber, overlaying composition leather. There is a full leather backing and a plastic and metal buckle. The components are all single stitched together to make the belt.

Articles are classified under the HTSUSA according to the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that the classification of articles is to be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relevant section or chapter notes and, provided that the headings or notes do not otherwise require, according to the remaining GRIs taken in order.

In the instant case, classification cannot be determined according to the terms of the headings. Heading 4203, HTSUSA, covers articles of apparel and clothing accessories, of leather or composition leather. Heading 6217, HTSUSA, covers other made up clothing accessories, parts of garments or of clothing accessories (of textile). Neither heading refers specifically to belts, but rather to accessories based on their constituent materials.

According to the GRIs, headings which refer to a particular material are deemed to include references to combinations of that material with other materials, e.g., leather with textiles. Pursuant to GRI 2(b), such goods are classified according to the principles of GRI 3.

When goods are, prima facie, classifiable in two or more headings, GRI 3 provides in pertinent part that:

(a) The heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description. However, when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods or to part only of items in a set put up for retail sale, those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more specific description of the goods.

(b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

The belt in question is made from leather and composition leather in combination with a textile. The two headings under consideration, 4203 and 6217, HTSUSA, are equally specific in relation to the belt in that each refers to only part of the materials used to make the belt. Consequently, the belt cannot be classified by reference to GRI 3(a) and, therefore, GRI 3(b) requires that the article be classified by reference to its essential character.

The Explanatory Notes constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. The Explanatory Note to GRI 3 states in relevant part that:

(VIII) The factor which determines essential character will vary as between different kinds of goods. It may be determined by the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

While the textile overlay adds a significant decorative effect, it is merely an embellishment. In terms of bulk, the leather far surpasses the textile overlay and it gives the item its form. In the instant case, it is the leather and composition leather which girds the waist and thus constitutes the article known as a belt. Consequently, it is Customs' view that the leather constitutes the essential character of the belt in question.

The applicable subheading for the belt will be 4203.30.0000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), which provides for "Articles of apparel and clothing accessories, of leather or composition leather: Belts and bandoliers with or without buckles." The rate of duty will be 3.2% ad valorem.

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 Kenneth Reidlinger at 212-466-5881.


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