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HQ 965179

January 14, 2002

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 965179 RH


TARIFF NOS.: 4412.14.3070; 4418.90.4090

Port Director
U.S. Customs Service
700 Doug Davis Drive
Atlanta, GA 30354

RE: Protest number 1704-01-100117; Wood flooring; Wood products worked or shaped on edges, faces and ends; Application of amendments to Explanatory Notes; Headings 4409 and 4418, HTSUS; Laminated flooring; Headings 4412 and 4418

Dear Port Director:

The purpose of this correspondence is to address the Application for Further Review of Protest number 1704-01-100117, which you forwarded to our office for review.

The law firm of Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz & Silverman, LLP, on behalf of Sunstate Import Export, Inc., timely filed the AFR on April 18, 2001. Sunstate Import Export, Inc., is now represented by the law firm of Alston & Bird, LLP, in this matter.

The AFR challenges the liquidation of twenty-three entries of tongued and grooved solid hardwood flooring under subheading 4418 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), as other builder’s joinery and carpentry of wood. The AFR also challenges the liquidation of one entry of tongued and grooved laminated flooring under heading 4412, HTSUS.

The protestant contends that the solid hardwood flooring is properly classified under subheading 4409.10.2000, HTSUS, as coniferous wood flooring, and that the laminated flooring is properly classified under subheading 4418.90.4090, HTSUS, as other builder’s joinery and carpentry of wood.

Counsel states that further review of the protest is warranted because no ruling or court decision has addressed whether the subject wood flooring strips should be classified as claimed by the protestant based on amendments to the Explanatory Notes and improved international understanding of the scope of the respective tariff headings.


The merchandise at issue includes wood flooring strips made from nonconiferous hardwood that is tongued and grooved along its edges and ends to allow for assembly during installation, and wood flooring strips made from plywood with an outer veneer simulating the grain of hardwood. The veneer strips are also tongued and grooved along their edges and ends.


What is the correct classification of the tongued and grooved hardwood flooring?

What is the correct classification of the tongued and grooved plywood flooring?


Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 965083, dated June 22, 2001 (copy enclosed), states Customs position on the classification of solid wood flooring which is worked on the edges or the face but not on the ends, like the tongued and grooved flooring in this case. Therefore, we incorporate the LAW AND ANALYSIS portion of that ruling in this decision, as it is dispositive of the issue raised by the protestant.

With regard to the laminated flooring, Customs consistently classified laminated flooring with one veneer strip across the width of the face in heading 4412, HTSUS. See HQ 963417, dated September 20, 2000 and HQ 963570, dated September 26, 2000. Additionally, Customs published a “Notice of Revocation and Modification of Ruling Letters and Treatment Relating to the Classification of Laminated Flooring”, dated May 30, 2001, in the Customs Bulletin, Vol. 35, No. 22 (copy enclosed). In the notice, Customs concluded that flooring panels consisting of one or more strips of veneer on the surface are classifiable in heading 4412, HTSUS. These veneered flooring panels are distinct from parquet panels of heading 4418, HTSUS, which consist of individual parquet strips (lumber strips) joined together at the edges or ends to form the panel.

In its imported condition, the subject merchandise has a plywood construction, i.e., it consists of seven to nine plies with the grain of adjacent layers at an angle to each other. The top layer is a single veneer strip across the width of the face. Accordingly, it does not possess the characteristics of parquet panels under heading 4418, HTSUS. Customs correctly classified the flooring as plywood in heading 4412, HTSUS.


The protest should be DENIED in full. Customs correctly liquidated the tongued and grooved hardwood flooring under subheading 4418.90.4090, HTSUS, as other builder’s joinery and carpentry of wood, and the tongued and grooved plywood flooring under subheading 4412.14.3070, HTSUS.

In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, you are to mail this decision, together with the Customs Form 19, to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry or entries in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing the decision.

Sixty days from the date of the decision, the Office of Regulations and Rulings will make the decision available to Customs personnel, and to the public on the Customs Home Page on the World Wide Web at www.customs.ustreas.gov, by means of the Freedom of Information Act, and other methods of public distribution.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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