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NY F81198

December 29, 1999

CLA-2-39:RR:NC:TA:350 F81198


TARIFF NO.: 3921.13.1950

Mr. Edward B. Ackerman
Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz & Silverman LLP 245 Park Avenue, 33rd Floor
New York, NY 10167-3397

RE: The tariff classification of three PU coated imitation leather/suede needleloom felt materials, for use in the manufacture of footwear, China.

Dear Ms. DiLapi:

In your letter dated December 20, 1999, on behalf of Panard and Megatrade Profits Ltd., you requested a classification ruling.

You request classification for two thicknesses (1.1 mm and 1.3 mm) of essentially the same product that will be imported in one of the following three forms: Untextured (“substrate”), Textured, and Buffed (“Nubuck”) which are described below. These felts are called SF felts (i.e., shrunken fiber felts) as opposed to those submitted in an earlier submission (NY E89438), where you queried about RF or regular fiber felts. Five different samples were furnished, three representing the goods to be imported and two of the base needleloom felt. One each, 0.85SF mm and 1.05SF mm thick that are the base materials of the 1.1 and 1.3 mm thick finished imported goods, respectively.

All of the felts, according to your correspondence, are produced from nylon and polyester staple fibers which are generally 1 to 2 deniers in linear density. These fibers are put through a process of air flowing and carding to create a web. Then, up to 8 layers (depending on the desired thickness) of web are laid on top of one another (cross lapping) before a process of needle-punching commences, i.e., the web layers are passed through a “looming process” wherein barbed needles pass through the web interlocking the fibers, thereby forming the felts. Finally, the formed felts are subjected to a hot water bath and is then heat dried resulting in a shrinking of the fibers and making a denser, heavier web with greater plastic absorption. This is the only practical difference in construction vis a vis the felts we ruled upon earlier.

The felt is subsequently dipped into a bath consisting of a solution of polyurethane (a plastics material) and dimethyl-formamide (DMF). Once the felt absorbs the polyurethane and the DMF solution, it is placed in a water bath to remove the DMF. The resulting felt remains impregnated with the polyurethane plastic, only. Although impregnated, the fibrous textile nature remains and is apparent.

Next, the top surface of the dipped (impregnated) felt is coated with another layer of polyurethane and DMF. The felt then goes through another water bath to remove the DMF from the top coating. This coagulated polyurethane “skin” now adheres to the dipped felt. The felt is then subjected to a final water bath to remove all remaining DMF and is dried, resulting in what you describe as the Untextured (“substrate”) product. This coagulation type coating (removal of water-soluble DMF leaving voids) results in a deposit of cellular plastic.

Finally, finishing operations described in your letter consist of embossing the top surface of this substrate to produce a leather effect, which you call Textured or buffing the surface to impart a suede-like appearance. The latter is called Buffed (“Nubuck”).

You state, and presented a chart, that professional laboratory testing was performed on all three variations of the 1.1 and 1.3 mm products with the results showing that in all three felts: Untextured (“substrate”), Textured and Buffed (“Nubuck”), the added plastic (impregnation and coating) accounted for at least 60% by weight, of the total weight of the respective materials. The chart listed the percent of plastic as 65.8, 68.5 and 63.6 for the above types, respectively.

The weight gain was made by comparing the weight of the base felt to the finished good, within the respective thickness style. Weights were based on squares having sides five inches in length.

The weights you provided were not verified by the New York Customs Laboratory

In all cases, there was more than a 50 percent finished weight gain to the base felt by the addition and combination of the saturate and the top coating polyurethane plastic. Chapter 56 note 3. (a) directs that felt impregnated or coated with plastics, containing 50 percent or less by weight of textile material be excluded from heading 5602.

The applicable subheading for the three SF felts (1.1 mm and 1.3 mm) will be 3921.13.1950, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), which provides for other plates, sheets, film, foil and strip, of polyurethane plastics, cellular, combined with a single textile material, other. The rate of duty will be 5.3 percent 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 George Barth at 212-637-7085.


Robert B. Swierupski

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