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HQ 562291

February 21, 2002

MAR-05 RR:CR:sm 562291 tjm


Brenda A. Jacobs
Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy, LLP
1001 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Sixth Floor
Washington DC 20004-2582

RE: NAFTA eligibility; NAFTA Preference; Mexico; apparel; men’s work trousers; GN 12(t)/62.16, HTSUS; interlining; pocket; UniFirst.

Dear Ms. Jacobs:

This is in reply to your letter dated November 7, 2001, which we received on December 11, 2001, requesting a ruling on the eligibility of work trousers made in Mexico with non-originating interlining and/or pocket fabric for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) preference. Please find our response below.


Your client, UniFirst, imports 100 percent woven cotton and polyester/cotton blend work trousers from related suppliers (maquilas) in Mexico. You advise that the 100 percent cotton men’s trousers are classifiable in subheading 6203.42.40 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), and that the men’s cotton/polyester blend trousers are classifiable in subheading 6203.43.40, HTSUS. You state that the garments will be imported primarily through the port of Brownsville, Texas.

Your inquiry is based on your client’s consideration of sourcing non-NAFTA interlining for the waistband and non-NAFTA fabric used for the pockets and for covering the interlining on the inside waistband of the trousers. You represent that neither the interlining nor the pocket/waistband fabric will be visible when the garment is worn. The interlining and pocket/waistband fabric would be of non-NAFTA origin, either because the fiber or yarn was formed outside the NAFTA territory or the fabric was woven outside the NAFTA territory. The interlining and pocket/waistband fabric would be shipped to Mexico where it would be incorporated into the trousers. The body of the trousers will be made of fiber, yarn and fabric formed in a NAFTA Party and the fabric will be cut and sewn into trousers in Mexico.


Whether the use of non-NAFTA interlining and/or pocket/waistband fabric used in the production of the trousers described above precludes the trousers’ eligibility for the NAFTA preference.


A. NAFTA Preference

You inquire whether the pants after being assembled in Mexico can be claimed for the NAFTA preference. General Note 12(b), HTSUS, sets forth the criteria for determining whether a good is originating under the NAFTA. GN 12(b), HTSUS, (19 U.S.C. § 1202) states, in pertinent part, that:

For purposes of this note, goods imported into the customs territory of the United States are eligible for the tariff treatment and quantitative limitations set forth in the tariff schedule as “goods originating in the territory of a NAFTA party” only if –

(i) they are goods wholly obtained or produced entirely in the territory of Canada, Mexico and/or the United States; or (ii) they have been transformed in the territory of Canada, Mexico, and/or the United States so that –

. . . . (B) the goods otherwise satisfy the applicable requirements of subdivisions (r), (s) and (t) where no change in tariff classification is required, and the goods satisfy all other requirements of this note. . . .

Additionally, Chapter rule 3, GN 12(t)/62, HTSUS, which is applicable to goods classifiable in Chapter 62, HTSUS, and therefore, to the subject trousers, provides:

For purposes of determining the origin of a good of this chapter, the rule applicable to that good shall only apply to the component that determines the tariff classification of the good and such component must satisfy the tariff change requirements set out in the rule for that good. If the rule requires that the good must also satisfy the tariff change requirements for visible lining fabrics listed in chapter rule 1 for this chapter, such requirement shall only apply to the visible lining fabric in the main body of the garment, excluding sleeves, which covers the largest surface area, and shall not apply to removable linings.

Pocket fabric in pants is not considered in determining the classification of those garments. See Headquarters Ruling Letter (“HRL”) 963438, dated October 7, 1999, (ruling in part that pockets in pants are not considered in determining the classification of garments). Likewise, the fabric to cover the waistband of the trousers and interlining are not considered in determining the classification of the trousers. Accordingly, in the instant case, it is only the cotton fabric or the cotton/polyester blend fabric comprising the body of the trousers which determines the article’s classification.

Assuming that the all-cotton pants and the men’s cotton/polyester blend trousers as imported from Mexico are classifiable in subheading 6203.42.40 and 6203.43.40 HTSUS, respectively, GN 12(t)/62.16, HTSUS, applies in this case. GN 12(t)/62.16 provides for NAFTA eligibility for goods that undergo:

[a] change to subheading 6203.41 through 6203.49 from any other chapter, except from headings 5106 through 5113, 5204 through 5212, 5307 through 5308 or 5310 through 5311, chapter 54, or heading 5508 through 5516, 5801 through 5802 or 6001 through 6006, provided that the good is both cut and sewn or otherwise assembled in the territory of one or more of the NAFTA parties.

Headings 5204 through 5212 provide for cotton yarns and cotton fabrics. Chapter 54 provides for man-made filament sewing thread, yarns and fabrics. Headings 5508 through 5516 provide for man-made staple fiber yarns and fabrics.

Accordingly, in order for the pants to qualify as originating under the cited tariff change rule, the cotton fibers in the pants must be spun into yarns in a NAFTA country and, where applicable, either the polyester filaments in the pants (if any) must be extruded in a NAFTA country or the polyester staple fibers must be spun into yarns in a NAFTA country. In addition, the rest of the manufacturing processes necessary to produce the jeans (forming and cutting the fabric and assembling the fabric components) must also be performed in a NAFTA country. Based on the facts provided, except for the pocket/waistband fabric and the interlining, the pants comply with the cited tariff change requirements.

Because Chapter rule 3 of GN 12(t)/62, HTSUS, requires that only the component which determines the tariff classification of the good must satisfy the tariff change requirements, the non-NAFTA pocket, interlining, and waistband fabrics in the instant case do not need to satisfy the tariff change requirements. Therefore, the trousers in the instant case qualify as originating goods according to the terms of the NAFTA.


Based on the facts provided, the use of non-NAFTA pocket/waistband fabric and non-NAFTA interlining in the instant case does not disqualify the men’s trousers from NAFTA eligibility. Assuming that all other NAFTA requirements are satisfied, the trousers described above qualify for NAFTA preferential treatment.

A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is entered. If the documents are filed without a copy, this ruling should be brought to the attention of the Customs officer handling the transaction.


John Durant

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