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HQ 963694

April 20, 2000

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 963694 jb


TARIFF NO.: 6110.10.2030

Mr. John Imbrogulio
1617 Sixth Avenue, Suite 1000
Seattle, WA 98101

RE: Classification of knit garments: wholly of; General Note 19 (e)(i)

Dear Mr. Imbrogulio:

On May 7, 1999, Customs, at the port of El Paso, Texas, issued to you Port Decision Letter (PD) D89797, classifying certain women’s knit garments in subheading 6110.10.1020, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), in the provision for women’s sweaters, wholly of cashmere. Upon review of that ruling we have determined that classification of that merchandise in subheading 6110.10.1020, HTSUSA, is in error. The correct classification of the subject merchandise is in subheading 6110.10.2030, HTSUSA, pursuant to the analysis that follows below.


The subject garment, referenced style CC1653, is a woman’s pullover sweater, constructed of 51 percent cashmere and 49 percent cotton knit fabric, with less than nine stitches per two centimeters measured in the horizontal direction. The sweater, which extends below the waist, features a crew neck, long sleeves with rib-knit cuffs and a rib-knit bottom.


What is the proper classification for the subject merchandise?


Classification of merchandise under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that classification shall 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.

Chapter 61, HTSUS, provides for articles of apparel and clothing accessories, knitted or crocheted. Statistical Note 3 to that chapter states that, “For purposes of this chapter, statistical provisions for sweaters include garments, whether or not known as pullovers, vests or cardigans, the outer surfaces of which are constructed essentially with 9 or fewer stitches per 2 centimeters measured in the direction the stitches were formed, and garments, known as sweaters, where, due to their construction, the stitches on the outer surface cannot be counted in the direction the stitches were formed.”

Heading 6110, HTSUS, provides for, sweaters, pullovers, sweatshirts, waistcoats (vests) and similar articles, knitted or crocheted.

General Note 19(e)(i) states:
the terms “wholly of”, “in part of”, and “containing”, when used between the description of an article and a material (e.g., “woven fabrics, wholly of cotton”), have the following meanings:

(i) “wholly of” means that the goods are, except for negligible or insignificant quantities of some other material or materials, composed completely of the named material;

With regard to the application of the quantitative concepts specified above, it is intended that the de minimis rule apply.

As the submitted garments are composed of a blend of cashmere and cotton, a critical issue in the proper classification of the subject garments, is the interpretation of “wholly of.” This understanding is important at the subheading level where garments will be classified in the provision for “wholly of” cashmere or in the alternate provision for other wool fibers. As set forth in the definition in General Note 19(e)(i), HTSUS, it is clear that any such interpretation will call for some quantitative limitations which, if exceeded, would result in a garment that is not “wholly of cashmere”. Although the definition of “wholly of” as set forth in the above cited General Note does not provide guidance with respect to a limiting “quantitative restriction”, it does provide us with guidance via the use of certain terminology reflected in that definition. In particular, that definition makes reference to “negligible or insignificant quantities” and “de minimis.”

The term “negligible” as defined in Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, 1991, at 791, states, “so small or unimportant or of so little consequence as to warrant little or no attention.” Read in terms of the “wholly of” definition, it would indicate that the amount of the blended fiber is so small as to have little to no consequence on the ultimate product. The same source, at 626, defines “insignificant” as, “lacking meaning or import; not worth considering.” Stated another way, the role of the blended fiber must be insignificant to the garment. To complete our understanding of “wholly of”, there is one more concept that needs to be introduced, that is, de minimis. The de minimis rule provides that an ingredient or component of an article may be ignored for classification purposes depending upon whether or not the amount used has noticeably changed or affected the nature of the article.

As such, when reading these concepts together in our understanding of “wholly of” we arrive at a two prong definition:
where the blended fiber is introduced into the cashmere in an amount so small that it is determined to be of little importance to the garment itself ; or where the blended fiber adds little to no commercial significance to the garment
the garment is considered for classification purposes, “wholly of” cashmere.

As we stated in HQ 962706, dated August 17, 1999,

With respect to the first prong, the “amount” that will trigger “importance” to the garment, will vary with the particular fiber blend. In speaking with different members of the fabric and garment industry it was brought to our attention that when referring to spandex, a percentage such as 2 percent could be considered significant. When referring to other blended fibers, it is our belief that depending on the fiber, over 3 percent of an “other fiber” could be considered significant.

As such, we emphasize that the caveat in this definition is that results will vary depending on the fiber used and the role/significance of that specific fiber to the garment in question. As such, the results obtained by application of this definition on any one garment, should in no way be understood to be applicable to other garments. This is because different results will be obtained depending on the amount of blended fiber present in the garment and the role it plays in that particular garment.

In the case of the merchandise at issue, it is clear that we do not have a situation where one needs to closely examine the inherent attributes which may be imparted by a small percentage of a particular blended fiber on an otherwise cashmere garment. As the subject garment is composed of fabric containing 49 percent cotton fibers (that is, almost equaling the amount of cashmere found in the garment) one cannot dispute that this amount adds both importance as well as commercial significance to the garment.

As such, we find that the cotton fibers in the knit fabric in these garments is not negligible or insignificant and thus for classification purposes these garments would not qualify as “wholly of cashmere.”


PD D89797 is revoked.

Style CC1653 is classified in subheading 6110.10.2030, HTSUSA, which provides for “Sweaters, pullovers, sweatshirts, waistcoats (vests) and similar articles, knitted or crocheted: Of wool or fine animal hair: Other: Sweaters: Women’s.” The applicable general column one rate of duty is 16.4 percent ad valorem and the textile quota category is 446.

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 negotiations and changes, we suggest that you check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report 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 status of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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