United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 1999 HQ Rulings > HQ 959581 - HQ 960361 > HQ 960176

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 960176

September 2, 1998

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 960176 RH


TARIFF NO.: 5516.14.0010

Area Director of Customs
Attn: Chief, Residual Liquidation
& Protest Branch
6 World Trade Center, Room 761
New York, NY 10048-0945

RE: Protest No. 1001-96-106065; 19 CFR 12.130; finishing operations; shrinkage; country of origin; notice to redeliver; 19 CFR 141.113(b); 19 CFR 113.62; dyeing; bleaching; printing; sanforizing; substantial transformation;

Dear Sir:

This is in response to your memorandum dated December 30, 1996, regarding the Application for Further Review of Protest (AFR) filed by the law firm of Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz & Silverman LLP, on behalf of Cameron Industries, Inc. The protest was timely filed and review is warranted pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 174.24(b).

The protest is against a Notice to Redeliver dated May 10, 1996 and a revised notice dated June 19, 1996, stating that the fabrics in question are products of China for which a visa is required. The protestant does not dispute the classification of the merchandise under subheading 5516.14.0010 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).


On February 14, 1996, the protestant entered into the United States 2997.6 meters (13 sacks) of 100 percent spun rayon fabric (design numbers 8368 and 8369). The merchandise was released from Customs custody on the same day.

Upon entry, the protestant claimed Turkey as the country of origin of the fabrics. On February 21, 1996, Customs requested additional information on Customs Form (CF) 28 and informed the protestant that the merchandise was conditionally released. On April 2, 1996, Customs sent another request for information asking the protestant to submit 2 yards of the 8368 and 8369 style fabrics. At that time, Customs advised the protestant that the merchandise was released "pending lab analysis."

The record contains a Multiple Country Declaration from the Turkish manufacturer, Savcan Tekstil Sanayi Ve Ticaret A.S. (Savcan), which states that the Chinese greige fabrics underwent singeing, bleaching, dyeing, discharge printing, steaming, washing off; finishing with stenter, and sanforizing at their facility in Turkey. However, a Customs laboratory examined the fabrics and determined that they were dyed, printed and bleached but not subjected to a shrinking process. Based on that information, Customs issued a Notice to Redeliver on May 10, 1996, instructing the protestant to submit a visa category 611 from Hong Kong for the fabrics as they did not undergo a substantial transformation in Turkey. The Notice was amended on June 19, 1996, to reflect that the proper country of origin of the fabrics was China (not Hong Kong), for which a visa was still required.

Customs liquidated the entry on September 20, 1996.


Were the Hong Kong greige fabrics in question substantially transformed in Turkey pursuant to
19 CFR 12.130?


At the time the fabrics in question entered the United States, Section 12.130 of the Customs Regulations (19 CFR ?12.130) governed the country of origin determinations for textiles and textile products subject to Section 204 of the Agricultural Act of 1956, as amended (7 U.S.C.
1854). Country of origin determinations for textiles and textile products imported prior to July 1, 1996, processed in more than one country, are governed by the provisions in 19 CFR textile products is deemed to be that foreign territory or country where the article last underwent a substantial transformation. Substantial transformation is said to occur when the article has been transformed into a new and different article of commerce by means of substantial manufacturing or processing.

The factors to be applied in determining whether or not a manufacturing operation is substantial are set forth in 19 CFR

An article or material usually will be a product of a particular foreign territory or country, or insular possession of the U.S., when it has undergone prior to importation into the U.S. in that foreign territory or country, or insular possession any of the following:

(i) Dyeing of fabric and printing when accompanied by two or more of the following finishing operations: bleaching, shrinking, fulling, napping, decating, permanent stiffening, weighting, permanent embossing, or moireing.

Section 12.130(e)(2) further provides:

An article or material usually will not be considered to be a product of a particular foreign territory or country, or insular possession of the U.S. by virtue of merely having undergone any of the following:

(iv) One or more finishing operations on yarns, fabrics, or other textile articles, such as showerproofing, superwashing, bleaching, decating, fulling, shrinking, mercerizing, or similar operations; or

(v) Dyeing and/or printing of fabrics or yarns.

Customs does not contest that the fabric was dyed, printed and bleached in Turkey. However, a Customs laboratory found no indication that the fabric underwent any of the other finishing operations enumerated in 19 CFR 12.130(e)(2). Customs Laboratory Report Number 2-96-10394-001, dated February 20, 1996, contains the following findings with regard to the subject fabrics:
the sample, a plain woven fabric, is composed wholly of single ply staple rayon yarns.

Based on our examinations performed on the sample, we are of the opinion that the sample has been bleached, dyed and printed.

There are no indications that the fabric was fulled, napped, moired, permanently stiffened, permanently embossed, decated, weighted or pre-shrunk.

Customs has been consistent in its determinations that where dyeing and printing are not accompanied by two or more of the operations enumerated in 19 CFR ?12.130(e)(1), or where processing involves only one or more finishing operation with no dyeing and printing, or dyeing and printing alone, substantial transformation does not occur for country of origin purposes. See, Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 734262, dated January 6, 1992, wherein Customs held that greige fabric which was treated by bleaching, dyeing, printing, and resin finishing, including special coating of the fabric, was not substantially transformed; HQ 734435, dated January 10, 1991 (greige fabric produced in Taiwan and processed in Hong Kong by desizing, scouring, bleaching, dyeing, softening, stentering and calendering, was not substantially transformed because the dyeing operation was not in conjunction with a printing operation); HQ 089230, dated May 10, 1991 (Chinese greige fabric exported to Hong Kong where it underwent scouring, bleaching, printing, napping and preshrinking, was not substantially transformed in Hong Kong); HQ 953905, dated July 30, 1993 (fabrics which were dyed and printed and then underwent
scouring, singeing, mercerizing and bleaching did not satisfy the two additional operations enumerated in 12.130(e) and were not substantially transformed); HQ 953191, dated May 14, 1993 (a substantial transformation did not occur in Kuwait where greige fabric was desized and washed, scoured, shrunk, bleached, dyed, sized and finished and cut on four sides and hemmed); HQ 088901, dated July 5, 1991 (greige fabric shipped to Israel where it was cut and sewn into 3000 foot lengths, singed and desized, washed, dried, subjected to thermofixation (heating the fabric to fix the final elasticity), bleached, printed, placed on a stentor frame, dyed (a light shading), washed, calendered, washed, and pressed, was not substantially transformed because Customs found that the fabric was not printed and dyed).

Customs interpretation of 19 CFR ?12.130 was upheld by the United States Court of International Trade in Mast Industries Inc. v. United States, 652 F. Supp. 1531 (1987); aff'd 822.F. 2d 1069 (CAFC, 1989). That case involved greige cotton fabric produced in China and sent to Hong Kong for singeing, desizing, scouring, bleaching, mercerizing, dyeing, softening, and stentering. The court stated that in determining the meaning of an agency's regulation, it would defer to that agency's interpretation unless the interpretation is plainly erroneous or inconsistent with the regulation. The court found that Customs' interpretation was reasonable and approved of Customs denying entry to the finished fabric without a visa from the Government of China.

Additionally, Congress granted Customs the statutory authority to verify the nature of imports using, among other methods, laboratory testing. 19 U.S.C. 1499 (1994). Additionally, it is well established that the methods of weighing, measuring, and testing merchandise used by Customs officers and the results obtained are presumed to be correct. Exxon v. United States, 462 F. Supp 378, 81 Cust. Ct. 87, C.D. 4772 (1978). The burden of proof rests with the importer to overcome the presumption that Customs has the expertise and knowledge to use standard methods and analysis techniques to obtain accurate results. HQ 950794, dated March 25, 1992.

In determining that the fabrics had not been subjected to a shrinking process, Customs relied upon the standards set forth in the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standard D 4038. This performance specification covers woven women's and girls' dress and blouse fabrics composed of any textile fiber or mixture of textile fibers. Section 1.1, ASTM 4038. The standard instructs that dimensional change be determined in accordance with the procedure set out in the AATCC (American Association of Chemists and Colorists) Test Method 135. The maximum allowable dimensional change recommended by the ASTM 4038 standard is 3 percent.

Under its statutory authority to verify the nature of imports using laboratory testing, Customs has a long established practice of relying on industry standards for its methods of weighing, measuring and testing merchandise. In this case, the 3 percent maximum allowable dimensional change used by the Customs laboratory to determine if the imported fabrics were preshrunk is a recognized industry standard. The ASTM standards are recognized by both the government and the industry. HQ 224349, dated February 18, 1994. Recognition by Customs of the ASTM standards for
weighing, measuring and testing merchandise is exhibited by an array of Customs rulings, a small sampling of which include: HQ 085912, dated February 6, 1990 (Customs is of the opinion that the use of the ASTM standards will properly fulfill Congressional intent regarding the definition of a tariff term); HQ 081157, dated April 25, 1989 (it has always been Customs practice, as well as an industry practice, that any product which does not meet the ASTM D 439 specifications may not be considered automotive gasoline for either Customs or commercial purposes); HQ 086218, dated March 26, 1990 (it has consistently been the position of Customs to utilize substantiality of construction as essential to a finding that an article is designed for travel and thus could be designated as luggage - Customs Service has used the ASTM designation D1593-91 as the basis for determining substantiality); HQ 111846, dated April 28, 1992 (Customs has adopted for most cases standards established by the ASTM to determine whether the gasoline or blending components of gasoline are transformed into new and different products because such standards represent industry developed criteria for characterizing fuel oils); HQ 224340, dated May 25, 1994 (Customs uses the ASTM standards to determine fungibility for certain products); HQ 953997, dated January 24, 1994 (ASTM D3597-89 has been adopted by Customs as the proper test method which sets forth the abrasion standards for woven upholstery fabrics); HQ 954018, dated September 23, 1993 (in considering whether a product consisting of 75 percent gray Portland cement and 25 percent calcium carbonate is classifiable as Portland cements, Customs consulted several standards established by the ASTM).

There is a presumption that the test methods and analysis technique of the Customs laboratory was correct. Exxon, supra. The AATCC 135 is a test method intended for the determination of dimensional changes in woven and knit fabrics when subjected to repeated automatic laundering procedures commonly used in the home. "Dimensional change" is defined in section 3.1 of the test method as "a generic term for changes in length or width of a fabric specimen subjected to specified conditions. The change is usually expressed as a percentage of the initial dimension of the specimen." Section 3.4 describes "shrinkage" as "a dimensional change resulting in a decrease in the length or width of a specimen."

The AATCC 135 test method provides that delicate fabrics shall be machine washed on delicate cycle for 8 minutes in 120§ +/- 5§ F. It then provides that the fabrics be tumble dried on delicate cycle or line, drip or screen dried.

Because the Customs laboratory which did the test is not equipped with a washing machine, Customs also consulted TEXTILE TESTING Physical, Chemical and Microscopical (1949) by John H. Skindle, Associate Professor of Textile Chemistry, Lowell Textile Institute. This text describes in detail the ASTM test methods for rayon woven goods. At page 117 the author states that the "Wash Wheel Testing Method" and "Launderometer Method" type of tests are suitable
for laboratories doing a lot of shrinkage testing, but another method requiring no special apparatus would be desirable for laboratories making only occasional tests. An example of such a method is described at page 118. The sample fabric is immersed in a beaker containing 0.3 percent soap solution in water at 40§ C for at least two hours. The sample is then rinsed, squeezed as dry as possible and dry-ironed. The sample is rewet, wrung out, ironed until dry, conditioned several hours and then measured again.

The author states that:

A guaranteed shrinkproof or 100% shrinkproof fabric should have no appreciable shrinkage; a pre-shrunk fabric should have only a small amount of shrinkage (1-2%). A Sanforized label implies not over 1% shrinkage in any direction and should be so understood. In general, we may say that, even without any label or claim, a shrinkage of more than 5% in either direction is excessive, except in the case of wool.

Customs tailored its test after the AATCC 135 and Testing Textile methods. The method Customs used was as follows:

A 12" x 12" test sample from the submitted fabric was tested for shrinkage. The sample was marked 10" apart in the warp and filling direction with an indelible ink marker. The marked sample was treated at 38 ([plus minus] 1) degree centigrade or 100 ([plus minus] 2) degrees fehrenheit for 15 minutes with a 0.5% soap solution (1:30 material to liquor ratio). Then the treated sample was washed with water (38 c or 100 f) for 5 minutes followed by a warm wash (25 c or 77 f) for 5 minutes and then a cold wash also for 5 minutes. The sample was dried flat. The distances between two markings were measured and the percent shrinkage calculated.

The Multiple Country Declaration submitted by the Turkish manufacturer, Savcan, states that the fabrics were "sanforized." SANFORIZED is a trademark owned by Cluett, Peabody and Company, Inc. We contacted a representative from that company who advised us that Cluett, Peabody and Company, Inc., recognizes two test methods to determine shrinkage of SANFORIZED fabrics. One is the Federal Test Method Standard No. 191A, which allows for shrinkage of 1% +/-. The other is the AATCC 135 which allows for 3% +/-.

Customs test method is comparable to both the AATCC 135 and the Federal Test Method Standard No. 191A, although Customs adopted less strenuous methods (cooler water temperature, shorter wash cycle, no dry-ironing, no wringing). We find no evidence that Customs test method was erroneous. Accordingly, we further find that the fabrics were not preshrunk in accordance with 19 CFR 12.130.


The Chinese fabrics in question were not substantially transformed into products of Turkey. The fabrics were dyed, printed and bleached in Turkey but lacked one of the additional operations enumerated in 12.130(e). Accordingly, the protest should be denied.

In accordance with section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive Number 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, this decision should be attached to the Customs Form 19, Notice of Action, and furnished to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing of the decision. Sixty days from the date of the decision (o n that date) the Office of Regulations and Rulings will take steps to make the decision available to Customs personnel via the Customs Ruling Module in ACS and to the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, Freedom of Information Act, and other public access channels.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: