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HQ 964986

August 23, 2002

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 964986 mbg

CATEGORY : Classification

TARIFF NO: 5602.10.9090

Ms. Faith Currier
GPMI Company
1224 North Hobson St.
Gilbert, AZ 85233

RE: Reconsideration of NY F86008

Dear Ms. Currier:

This is in response to your letter dated January 25, 2001, on behalf of GPMI Company, requesting reconsideration of New York Ruling Letter F86008, dated April 25, 2000, regarding the classification of a product commercially known as “Spot 180” which is a reusable wipe textile material under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (“HTSUSA”).


The subject merchandise is commercially known as Spot 180 and is a reusable wipe material imported in rolls that will be cut to a desired size. The material is a blend of rayon and polyester fibers which weighs 180 grams per meter squared (“g/m2”) and measures 1.2 millimeters in thickness. The subject merchandise contains a blue diamond pattern printed design.


1) What is the proper classification of the subject merchandise under the HTSUSA?


Classification under the HTSUSA is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (“GRI”). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI may then be applied.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (“EN”) represent the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level (for the 4 digit headings and the 6 digit subheadings) and facilitate classification under the HTSUSA by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRI. The EN, although not dispositive or legally binding, provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS, and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).

The two headings under consideration for the subject ruling are heading 5603, HTSUS, which provides for, nonwovens, whether or not impregnated, coated, covered or laminated; and heading 5602, HTSUS, which provides for, felt, whether or not impregnated, coated, covered or laminated.

Legal Note 3 to chapter 56, HTSUS, states:

Headings 5602 and 5603 cover respectively felt and nonwovens, impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with plastics or rubber whatever the nature of these materials (compact or cellular).

Heading 5603 also includes nonwovens in which plastics or rubber forms the bonding substance.

Headings 5602 and 5603 do not, however, cover:

(a) Felt impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with plastics or rubber, containing 50 percent or less by weight of textile material or felt completely embedded in plastics or rubber (chapter 39 or 40);

(b) Nonwovens, either completely embedded in plastics or rubber, or entirely coated or covered on both sides with such materials, provided that such coating or covering can be seen with the naked eye with no account being taken of any resulting change in color (chapter 39 or 40); or

(c) Plates, sheets or strip of cellular plastics or cellular rubber combined with felt or nonwovens, where the textile material is present merely for reinforcing purposes (chapter 39 or 40).

The Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (EN) to heading 5602, HTSUS, state in pertinent part:

This heading also includes needleloom felt which is made either:

(1) by punching a sheet or web of textile staple fibres (natural or man-made), without a textile fabric base, with notched needles; or

(2) by needling such textile fibres through a base of textile fabric or other material which is finally more or less hidden by the fibres.

Needled webs of staple fibres in which the needling is complementary to other types of bonding and needled filament-based webs are regarded as nonwovens (heading 56.03).

In regards to needleloom felt, the ENs to heading 5603, HTSUSA, further provide:

After web formation the fibres are assembled throughout the thickness and width of the web (continuous method) or in spots or patches (intermittent method). . . . [For] mechanical bonding, in which webs are strengthened by the physical entanglement of the constituent fibres. This may be achieved by means of high pressure air or water jets. It may also be achieved by needling but not by stitch-bonding. However, needled products regarded as nonwovens are restricted to:

- filament-based webs;
- staple fibre webs where the needling is complementary to other types of bonding.

To determine the classification of such merchandise it is critical to have a fundamental understanding of how the fabric is constructed and specifically what process actually forms or creates the fabric independent of any subsequent finishing process.

When the subject Spot 180 merchandise was analyzed by the Customs Office of Laboratory and Scientific Services, the results yielded a classification supporting the holding in NY F86008. The Customs lab examined the original sample submitted in NY F86008 as well as the sample provided by GPMI for the subject reconsideration. The lab found that there were no adhesives present in either sample and that no temperature bonding technique was used in either of the fabrics’ construction. The sample did show evidence of needle holes on the surfaces. The photomicrographs depict composites of the original sample and the resubmission at stereo magnification of 18X for the planar view, 12X for the cross section, and at the polarizing 10X objective for the fibers. Each microscopic observation showed that the fibers were free of any cohesion associated with either thermal or adhesive bonding.

This description allows us to understand the physical properties of this merchandise and understand that the needling operation was the prime method of manufacture of the material. The additional light application of a latex or resin on both surfaces was a treatment after the web had been formed to furnish a smoother surface and ease in the printing of the diamond pattern.

As such, it is Customs position that once the web of fibers has been needled and compressed, it has become a felt and that the subsequent processing amounts only to a coating, covering or impregnation. As there has been no thermal bonding of the fibers, the classification of the subject merchandise is not proper in heading 5603, HTSUSA. Additionally, we emphasize that as felts are recognized as a subgroup of products known as nonwovens, as between competing provisions, heading 5602, HTSUS, is more specific than heading 5603, HTSUS. Accordingly, when we compare the headings which merit consideration in the classification of this merchandise, GRI 1 provides that the subject merchandise is accurately described by the wording of heading 5602, HTSUS.


We affirm the classification rendered in NY F86008, dated April 25, 2000.

The subject merchandise is classified in subheading 5602.10.9090, HTSUSA, which specifically provides for “Felt, whether or not impregnated, coated, covered or laminated: Needleloom felt and stitch-bonded fiber fabrics: Other: Other.” The applicable general column one rate of duty is 11 percent ad valorem and the quota category is 223.

The designated textile and apparel category may be subdivided into parts. If so, visa and quota requirements applicable to the subject merchandise may be affected. Since part categories are the result of international bilateral agreements which are subject to frequent negotiations and changes, we suggest that you check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report On Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an issuance of the U.S. Customs Service, which is updated weekly and is available at the local Customs office.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories, you should contact the local Customs office prior to importing the merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


Myles Harmon, Acting Director

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