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NY F89919

August 18, 2000

CLA-2-56:RR:NC:TA:351 F89919


TARIFF NO.: 5609.00.3000

Karl F. Krueger
AEI Customs Brokerage Services
P.O. Box 5129
Southfield, Michigan 48086-5129

RE: The tariff classification and status under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), of a “Know the Ropes” store display card from Mexico; Article 509.

Dear Mr. Krueger:

In your letter dated July 6, 2000, on behalf of your client, The Lehigh Group, of Macungie, PA, you requested a ruling on the classification, country of origin, and marking requirements of a rope display card from Mexico. Although it was not specified in your letter, a subsequent telephone call indicated that you would also like a ruling on the status of the display card under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Your letter states that the vinyl-coated paperboard card, which measures approximately 33” tall x 8” wide is made and printed in the U.S. and sent to Mexico. Vinyl hinges are also made in the U.S. and sent to Mexico. Nine samples of rope are sent to Mexico and mounted on the board through pre-punched holes. Of the nine, seven are of man-made fibers (polypropylene, nylon, or polyester), one is of sisal (a vegetable fiber) and one, manila, appears to be of vegetable fibers, although no fiber content is given. Printed information on the card identifies each type of rope and suggested uses to inform the purchaser at retail. The ropes are said to be made in the U.S. or Mexico, except for one style, manila, which is made in the Philippines. The display card is assembled in Mexico where the ropes are inserted through the appropriate holes and knotted, the hinges are attached, and the card is boxed for shipping back to the U.S. distribution center for distribution to U.S. retailers, the ultimate consignees of these cards.

Your letter states your belief that this is a composite article and you ask which, if any, component imparts the essential character. We agree that this item is a composite article, as it can be viewed as either printed matter, classifiable in Chapter 49, or as articles of rope, classifiable in Chapter 56. General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 3 to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) states that when by application of GRI 2(b) or for any other reason, goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows:

(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 the materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods or to part only of the 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 complete or precise description of the goods. We believe this to be the case with the rope display card.

(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.

(c) When goods cannot be classified by reference to 3(a) or 3(b), they shall be classified under the heading which occurs last in the numerical order among those which equally merit consideration.

We believe that neither the printed board nor the rope imparts the essential character to this item, as would be required by GRI 3(b). Thus, under GRI 3(c), we have determined that the applicable tariff provision for the rope display card will be 5609.00.3000, HTS, which provides for articles of twine, cordage, rope . . . not elsewhere specified or included: of man-made fibers. The general rate of duty will be 6.3 percent ad valorem.

The merchandise does not qualify for preferential treatment under the NAFTA because one or more of the non-originating materials used in the production of the goods will not undergo the change in tariff classification required by General Note 12(t)/56, HTSUSA. Specifically, that rule requires that any non-originating materials, that is, any component from a non-NAFTA country, must undergo “a change to headings 5601 through 5609 from any other chapter . . . .” As the rope from the Philippines is from a non-NAFTA country, it is non-originating and must undergo such a change; however, it is by itself classifiable under HTS heading 5609, hence, no such change in classification takes place.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 181 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 181).

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 Mitchel Bayer at 212-637-7086.

Should you wish to request an administrative review of this ruling, submit a copy of this ruling and all relevant facts and arguments within 30 days of the date of this letter, to the Director, Commercial Rulings Division, Headquarters, U.S. Customs Service, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20229.


Robert B. Swierupski

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