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NY H82109

June 18, 2001

CLA-2-64:RR:NC:TA:347 H82109


TARIFF NO.: 6406.10.1000 ; 6406.10.9090 ; 6406.99.3030

Ms. Brooke Knight
Kuehne & Nagel
2009 So. 4130 West Ste. B
Salt Lake City, UT 84104

RE: The tariff classification of parts of footwear from China

Dear Ms Knight:

In your letter dated June 4, 2001, on behalf of Redwing Shoe Co., Inc., you requested a tariff classification ruling.

The submitted ruling request concerns the classification of leather shoe uppers with completely closed bottoms, rubber/plastic shoe sole/bottoms and steel shoe-toe caps. In their imported condition, these items are considered parts of footwear and are separately classifiable in Chapter 64 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedules of the United States (HTSUS). In your letter you state that all of these items will be produced in China and that after importation, these various footwear component parts will be assembled and used in the making of finished shoes in the U. S.

You have submitted samples of two uppers, two outer soles/bottoms and two steel toe caps, none of which have been identified with any specific item or style numbers. Since you state in your letter that the sample involves “leather uppers” and since both the submitted leather shoe upper samples appear to be constructed and formed in the same manner and have identical fully closed bottoms, we will presume that you have merely supplied two samples of all the items in question for illustration purposes only. We will therefore address our response as if only a single set of three items, a leather shoe upper, a rubber/plastic shoe bottom and a steel toe cap has been submitted for classification.

The first submitted item is a footwear upper which you state has an external surface area (ESAU) consisting of stitched together leather component pieces and which also has a padded tongue, a textile material inner lining and a sewn-on, completely closed bottom consisting of a “stroble” sock underfoot. In determining whether this upper is “formed,” one of the factors we look to is whether the bottom of the upper is closed. With a “stroble” sock sewn to the bottom, we consider the submitted upper sample to have a closed bottom. In addition to a closed bottom, a “formed upper” must also have been shaped by lasting, molding or otherwise, but not by simply closing at the bottom (See Additional U. S. Note 4 to Chapter 64 HTSUS). In this regard, the submitted sample uppers clearly have not been shaped in the front, since the leather external material pieces have not been bent or rounded under the toe, but instead flair out in a flat unshaped manner. However, in the back, a significant extra shaping step is involved. A plastic stiffener has been inserted between the outside leather back counter and side pieces, and the inside textile lining, and by either pressure bending or from the application of heat, it has given the back heel portion of the upper the rounded, basically semi-circular shape of the finished shoe. It is our observation that this readily evident shaping of the subject uppers could not have resulted from “simply closing at the bottom” (i.e., shaping the upper by stitching only). In addition, when the stitching in the heel area of the subject uppers is removed, the uppers maintain their shoe shapes. Based on our interpretation of Additional U. S. Note 4 to Chapter 64, HTSUS, lasting and molding are not the only methods by which an upper may be shaped. As implied in (Headquarters Ruling Letter) HRL 95046 dated June 22, 1992 and again in HRL 958112 dated July 25, 1995, the presence of a relatively rigid piece which requires the upper to maintain at least in part, its imported shape in the finished shoe is a critical consideration. The stiffener in the back parts of the upper gives these uppers more shape then they would have without it and the result is the shaping of these uppers by a method that is more than “simply closing at the bottom.” We therefore consider the uppers at issue to be “formed uppers” for tariff classification purposes.

The second submitted item to be imported from China is a cupsole type shoe bottom consisting of a molded rubber/plastic outer sole with a toe bumper, cemented onto a rubber/plastic midsole with approximately ½-inch high sidewalls. You state that this rubber/plastic bottom will be assembled to a leather shoe upper after importation into the U. S.

The third submitted item is a steel toe cap, which will also be incorporated into some footwear uppers after importation into the U. S.

The applicable subheading for the subject leather shoe uppers will be 6406.10.1000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), which provides for parts of footwear which are “formed uppers”; in which the external surface of the upper (not including the insole, accessories or reinforcements) is predominately leather or composition leather; for other persons. The rate of duty will be 10% ad valorem.

The applicable subheading for the rubber/plastic shoe bottoms will be 6406.99.3030, HTS, which provides for parts of footwear, which are unit bottoms which are more than outer soles or outer heels and in which are of rubber and/or plastics. The rate of duty will be 5.3% ad valorem.

The applicable subheading for the steel toe caps will be 6406.10.9090, HTS, which provides for parts of footwear, which are shoe uppers or the parts thereof, and which are essentially of a material other than rubber and/or plastics, leather or textile materials. The rate of duty will be 5.8% ad valorem.

You have asked for the required country of origin marking of the imported “formed uppers” for which you have also provided the “assembly” steps that will be performed in the U. S. in order to produce either a finished “soft toe” or “steel toe” (with a steel toe cap) shoe. It has been the position of Customs that the additional processing necessary to transform an imported “formed upper” into a completed shoe is not significant enough to substantially transform the product. We therefore hold that these shoe uppers are not excepted from marking and that each upper must be marked “Made in China” at the time of importation into the U. S. The marking must appear in an area where it will be visible and conspicuous and in a place where it will not be obscured by any further assembly or processing which will take place in the U. S.

You note in your request that you would like to mark the shoes “Made in China Assembled in the United States.” Questions regarding the acceptability of such a marking on the finished shoe must be decided by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Division of Enforcement. The FTC has primary responsibility under the statutes when a “Made in USA” claim can be made.

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 Richard Foley at 212-637-7089.


Robert B. Swierupski

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