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NY H83517

August 10, 2001

CLA-2-44:RR:NC:SP:230 H83517


TARIFF NO.: 4418.90.4090

Ms. Doris Tegelkamp
Pollmeier Leimholz GmbH
P.O. Box 1260 – D-33384 Rietberg

RE: The tariff classification of solid wood flooring planks from Germany.

Dear Ms. Tegelkamp:

In your letter dated July 11, 2001, you requested a tariff classification ruling.

Two samples, both solid beech flooring planks, were submitted for our examination. The first is approximately ¾” thick by 4” wide and is coated on its face with a clear finishing material said to consist of UV-cured polyester with aluminum oxide. It is tongued and grooved along the edges and the ends, and also has two parallel grooves running lengthwise along the back (bottom) surface. The second sample is approximately ¾” thick by 3¼” wide. It has been worked along the edges, ends and back in the same way as the first sample, but is not coated with any finishing materials.

You have suggested that these products should be classified under heading 4409, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), which provides for wood, continuously shaped along any of its edges or faces. In support of your position, you cite the Explanatory Notes (EN’s) to the Harmonized System (HS), in particular the amended EN for heading 4409, which reads, in pertinent part, as follows:

This heading covers timber, particularly in the form of boards, planks, etc., which after sawing or squaring, has been continuously shaped along any of its edges or faces either to facilitate subsequent assembly or to obtain the moldings or beadings described in Item (4) below, whether or not planed, sanded or end-jointed, e.g. finger-jointed. For the purposes of this head- ing the term “edges” includes the ends (Emphasis added.)

The Explanatory Notes, which constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System, provide commentary on the scope of each heading of the HS. However, while the EN’s are generally useful for guidance, they are not law in the United States, and neither the courts nor the Customs Service are bound to follow them if they are not consistent with the HTSUSA, which is U.S. statutory law.

In the case of solid wood flooring planks that are tongued and grooved along their edges and ends, Customs has previously concluded that such merchandise is most accurately described by heading 4418, HTSUSA, which provides for builders’ joinery and carpentry of wood. See HQ 964825 (June 11, 2001), HQ 956363 (Sept. 2, 1994), HQ 955712 (April 20, 1994), HQ 952940 (March 24, 1993) and NY 806603 (Feb. 24, 1995). “Builders’ joinery and carpentry of wood” of heading 4418, HTSUSA, describes wood products that are continuously worked on the edges, ends and faces. Heading 4409, HTSUSA, only describes wood continuously shaped along any of its edges or faces. Based upon the statutory language of the HTSUSA headings themselves, the instant merchandise is more specifically provided for in heading 4418, HTSUSA, than heading 4409, HTSUSA. Although this conclusion may be inconsistent with the amended EN to heading 4409 of the HS, it is consistent with the congressionally intended implementation of heading 4409 and heading 4418 of the HTSUSA.

Accordingly, the applicable subheading for the beech flooring planks represented by the above-described samples will be 4418.90.4090, HTSUSA, which provides for other (non-enumerated) builders’ joinery and carpentry of wood. The rate of duty will be 3.2%.

The holding set forth above applies only to the specific factual situation and merchandise description as identified in the ruling request. This position is clearly set forth in 19 CFR 177.9(b)(1). This section states that a ruling letter is issued on the assumption that all of the information furnished in connection with the ruling request and incorporated therein, either directly, by reference, or by implication, is accurate and complete in every material respect.

This ruling is being issued under the assumption that the subject goods, in their condition as imported into the United States, conform to the facts and the description as set forth both in the ruling request and in this ruling. In the event that the facts or merchandise are modified in any way, you should bring this to the attention of Customs and you should resubmit for a new ruling in accordance with 19 CFR 177.2. You should also be aware that the material facts described in the foregoing ruling may be subject to periodic verification by the Customs Service.

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 Paul Garretto at 212-637-7009.


Robert B. Swierupski

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