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HQ 963309

MAY 31, 2000

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 963309 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 3926.90.98

Mr. Edward F. Juliano, Jr.
Attorney at Law
360 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 200
Acton, MA 01720

RE: NY D88243 Affirmed; Doctor Blade Material in Coils

Dear Mr. Juliano:

In a letter, dated December 8, 1999, on behalf of Thermo Web Systems, Inc., you request reconsideration of a ruling to you on the classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of doctor blade material, a product of the UK. A sample doctor blade, made from this material, was submitted. You continue to maintain that the material is classifiable as parts, either in a provision of heading 8419, HTSUS, or in a provision of heading 8439, HTSUS.


In NY D88243, which the Director of Customs National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, issued to you on March 19, 1999, fiberglass reinforced plastic strip, imported in 100 meter-long coils, was held to be classifiable in subheading 3926.90.98, HTSUS, as other articles of plastics.

As described in the ruling, the doctor blade material, as imported, is approximately 3 inches wide and has been beveled at a 30 degree angle along one edge, in the manner of a blade. The other edge has been routed on one side to a width of approximately 7/8 inch and a depth of approximately 1/32 inch to form what is called a “rebate.” After importation, the material will be cut to specific lengths, typically 17 feet, and assembled with other components into doctor blade assemblies. Holes are drilled along the rebated side to permit incorporation of the blade into a holder. Doctor blades are used to scrape surface water and built-up pulp, dirt and other contaminants from press rolls, calender rolls and other rotating cylinders used in the papermaking industry.

In NY D 88243, Customs rejected the classification you advocated, in heading 8419, HTSUS, as parts of machinery and plant for making paper pulp, paper or paperboard, on the basis that such classification did not apply to merchandise imported in material lengths. You now make an alternative claim under heading 8439, HTSUS, as parts of machinery for making paper or paperboard. Your “parts” claim is based to some extent on a decision of the Canadian International Trade Tribunal on similar merchandise and, to a greater extent, on a recent decision of the U.S. Court of International Trade.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

3926 Other articles of plastics and articles of other materials of headings 3901 to 3914:



8419 Machinery, plant or laboratory equipmentfor the treatment of materials by a process involving a change of temperature, other than machinery or plant of a kind used for domestic purposes; parts thereof:

8419.90 Parts:

8419.90.20 Of machinery and plant for making paper pulp, paper or paperboard

8439 Machinery for making pulp of fibrous cellulosic material or for making or finishing paper or paperboard (other than the machinery of heading 8419); parts thereof:



8439.99.10 Of machinery for making paper or paperboard


Whether under GRI 2(a), doctor blade material in coils, as described, has the essential character of a part of machinery for making pulp, paper or paperboard.


Under General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 1, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), goods are to be classified according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6. GRI 2(a) states in part that any reference in a heading to an article includes that article incomplete or unfinished provided that, as entered, the incomplete or unfinished article has the essential character of the complete or finished article.

The Canadian International Trade Tribunal (Tribunal) is an independent body and not part of any Federal government department or agency. It is a quasi-judicial body which, among other things, hears appeals from persons who disagree with Customs decisions issued by the Department of National Revenue (Revenue Canada). In Kaneng Industries Inc. and The Deputy Minister of National Revenue, Appeal No. AP-96-127, which the Tribunal decided on December 2, 1997, laminates based on glass fabric bonded together with a modified epoxy resin, imported in 50 and 100-meter coils, designed for the production of doctor blades, was held to be classifiable in tariff item No. 8439.99.90 as other parts of machinery for making or finishing paper or paperboard. The cited authority was Rule 2(a) of the General Rules for the Interpretation of the Harmonized System. As you point out, Customs is not bound by the administrative or judicial decisions of other countries. At best, such rulings are merely instructive of how others may classify like goods. See T.D. 89-90 (Fed. Reg. Vol. 54, No. 102, dated August 23, 1990). This decision does not serve as precedent in this case.

Of greater relevance is the Court of International Trade case you cite, Ludvig Svensson (U.S.) Inc. v. United States, Slip Op. 99-82 (Ct. Int’l Trade, decided August 17, 1999), which addressed the tariff status of agricultural screening material imported in rolls. Each roll was several hundred feet long and all of the material was used solely in the construction of greenhouses as shade and heat retention systems, and to control insects. In classifying this screening material in subheading 8436.99.00, HTSUS, as incomplete or unfinished parts of agricultural or horticultural machinery, the Court applied a two-part test. First, whether the imported article is an integral, constituent or component part without which the article to which it is joined could not function as such article and, second, whether the imported article is dedicated solely (or principally) for
use with the article in question. Initially, two factors in the Ludvig decision lessen its probative value in the present case; first, the Court’s observation that Congress has traditionally favored a liberal construction for provisions involving agricultural implements and equipment so as to benefit the agricultural industry - a consideration that does not exist here - and second, citing previous decisions, the Court noted that issues of material versus unfinished parts are decided on a case-by-case basis.

The brochure you submitted which describes this product indicates that doctor blades made from this material are used in press rolls, dryers and calenders. Dryer rolls are used in the dryer section of a paper pulp, paper or paperboard-making machine, as well as in paper or paperboard-finishing machines (i.e., certain types of coating machines), and parts of these articles are classifiable in subheading 8419.90.20, HTSUS, your primary claim, and in subheading 8419.90.80, HTSUS, respectively. But, press rolls are used in the press section of a paper or paperboard-making machine, and parts of such press sections are classifiable in subheading 8439.99.10, HTSUS, which is your alternative claim. Finally, calender rolls are used in calender sections of paper or paperboard-making machines, as well as in free-standing paper or paperboard callenders (such as supercalenders), and parts of such articles are classifiable in subheading 8420.99.20, HTSUS. In its condition as imported, the doctor blade material at issue will be used in a press, dryer or calender and, thus, is potentially classifiable in any one of the four listed subheadings. In fact, it is conceivable that a single 100-meter coil of this material, after appropriate cutting and drilling, can be used to make doctor blades for all four applications. Given these facts, there is no basis on which to establish an essential character for this material and thereby determine its sole or principal use for purposes of classification. In our opinion, the doctor blade material at issue fails at least the second prong of the Ludvig test. Customs traditionally classifies doctor blade material of this construction as other articles of plastics, in subheading 3926.90.95 (now 98), HTSUS. See HQ 954366, dated September 7, 1993.


Under the authority of GRI 1, doctor blade material, as described, is provided for in heading 3926. It is classifiable in subheading 3926.90.98, HTSUS.


NY D88243, dated March 19, 1999, is affirmed.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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