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HQ 965375

August 23, 2002

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 965375 ttd


TARIFF NO.: 4407.10.0001

Port Director
U.S. Customs Service
21 3rd Street N. Suite 201
Great Falls, MT 59401

RE: Decision on Application for Further Review of Protest Number 3304-01-100021; Engineered Structural Rafters

Dear Sir or Madam:

This is a decision on an Application for Further Review (AFR) of Protest Number 3304-01-100021, timely filed on July 19, 2001, by Kirkland & Ellis on behalf of Interact Wood Products, against your decision in the classification and liquidation of engineered structural rafters from Canada and entered on January 17, 2000.


The wood at issue is Canadian spruce, pine and/or fir (“S-P-F”), identified as “engineered structural rafters” (ESRs). The products are made of short pieces of structural grade dimensional lumber measuring 2 inches by 6 inches or 2 inches by 8 inches. They are finger-jointed together to form continuous pieces 26 to 40 feet in length. The ESRs are long boards having a uniform rectangular cross-section throughout their length and unworked ends. The Protestant asserts that the ESRs are completely finished except for end trimming at the job site.

The Protestant contends that the finger-jointed wood is classifiable in heading 4418 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUSA), as builder’s joinery and carpentry of wood. The Protestant argues that the ESRs are longer than items capable of being produced by a sawmill and that they are recognizable as rafters (rather than as ordinary pieces of lumber) due to their length and their “engineered qualities” (strength, stiffness and straightness) not found in nature. Furthermore, the Protestant contends that the ESRs are more expensive than dimensional lumber and that the finger-joints are cut deeper and the glue is stronger than that of “normal” finger jointed lumber.

We note that counsel for the Protestant was notified by letter on July 18, 2002, that the Protestant’s request for confidential treatment and request for treatment must be perfected before we would consider the substantive issues raised. In a letter dated August 16, 2002, we received via facsimile a letter from Alston & Bird, LLP, stating “Please note that we have moved to the Alston & Bird law firm, but continue to represent Interact Wood Products, Ltd. in this matter.” Counsel for the Protestant requested an extension to gather and provide the information necessary to substantiate claims for treatment and confidentiality. We denied this request.


Whether the finger-jointed wood is classifiable under heading 4407, HTSUSA, as general sawn lumber, or under heading 4418, HTSUSA, as builder’s carpentry and joinery of wood?


Classification of goods under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. Merchandise that cannot be classified in accordance with GRI 1 is to be classified in accordance with subsequent GRI's taken in order.

Chapter 44, HTSUSA, provides for, among other things, wood and articles of wood. This chapter is structured so that less processed wood appears at the beginning of the chapter followed by more advanced wood in later headings within the same chapter. Thus, for example, heading 4403, HTSUSA, is a general provision for wood in the rough, whether or not stripped of bark or sapwood or roughly squared, and heading 4421, HTSUSA, is a basket provision for more advanced articles of wood that cannot be classified elsewhere in the chapter.

As heading 4407 resides at the beginning of Chapter 44, HTSUSA, it reflects coverage of a relatively basic category of lumber products in relation to heading 4418, which, residing closer to the end of Chapter 44, HTSUSA, reflects coverage of a relatively more advanced category of products.

Heading 4407, HTSUSA, provides for wood sawn or chipped lengthwise, sliced or peeled, whether or not planed, sanded or finger-jointed, of a thickness exceeding 6mm. Heading 4418 provides for, among other things, builder’s joinery and carpentry of wood.

Additionally, the Explanatory Notes (EN’s) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System constitute the official interpretation of the nomenclature at the international level. The EN’s are not legally binding. However, they do represent the considered views of classification experts of the Harmonized System Committee. It has therefore been the practice of the Customs Service to follow, whenever possible, the terms of the EN’s when interpreting the HTSUSA.

The EN to heading 4418, HTSUSA, state in pertinent part:

This heading applies to woodwork, including that of wood marquetry or inlaid wood, used in the construction of any kind of building, etc., in the form of assembled goods or as recognizable unassembled pieces (e.g., prepared with tenons, mortises, dovetails or other similar joints for assembly), whether or not with their metal fittings such as hinges, locks, etc. Emphasis added.

The term "joinery" applies more particularly to builders' fittings (such as doors, windows, shutters, stairs, door or window frames), whereas the term "carpentry" refers to woodwork (such as beams, rafters and roof struts) used for structural purposes or in scaffoldings, arch supports, etc., and includes assembled shuttering for concrete constructional work. However, plywood panels, even if surface treated for the purposes of concrete shuttering, are classified in heading 44.12. Bold in original.

While we acknowledge that rafters are “carpentry”, we note that they must be “recognizable.”

In this case, the ESRs are not “recognizable unassembled pieces” but rather, plain rectangular finger-jointed boards with square cut ends. They have no pre-formed joints or the like that render them suitable for immediate assembly in a particular construction project. Moreover, the Protestant’s letter dated September 1, 2000, reveals in part:

ESRs are made to individual customer specifications and are completely finished (except for end trimming at the job site) at the time of importation. Emphasis added.

Accordingly, at the time of importation, the subject ESRs have 90 degree angle cuts on each end. As the wood in question is square-cut, it admittedly undergoes further processing after importation. Therefore, the merchandise is not ready for installation as rafters in roofs in its condition as imported.

The Protestant argues that the long length, the structural grade, the quality of the finger-jointing and the higher cost of the wood dedicates the subject merchandise for use as rafters and precludes them from classification in heading 4407, HTSUSA. We disagree.

The terms of heading 4407, HTSUSA, do not limit the classification of lumber by grade, price, size or length. The EN to heading 4407, HTSUSA, read, in pertinent part:

With few exceptions, this heading covers all wood and timber, of any length but of a thickness exceeding 6 mm. Such wood and timber includes sawn beams, planks, flitches, boards, laths, etc.

The products of this heading may be planedsanded or end-jointed, e.g., finger-jointed. Emphasis added.

All the physical characteristics and the manufacturing process described, e.g., the length of the boards and producing longer boards by finger-jointing shorter boards, do not prepare the subject merchandise into a recognizable product of heading 4418, HTSUS. Otherwise, any 2 x 4 x 8 would be classifiable in headng 4418, HTSUS, as builder’s joinery and carpentry of wood since it would have the precise length of studs used for building a wall.

See NY 873209, dated May 4, 1992 (The operation of cutting wood strips or boards to certain specific sizes and easing the edges does not remove the products from the sawn wood of heading 4407, HTSUSA).

Accordingly, we find that the wood in question falls squarely within the terms of heading 4407, HTSUSA, and there is no evidence that the wood is ready, in its condition as imported, to be assembled into a particular structure. The fact that the lumber may be of a certain size, grade or quality suitable for ultimate use as rafters is irrelevant. See HQ 963876, dated February 12, 2001 (If a board being imported is a component of a truss of heading 4418, HTSUSA, the importer must be able to establish to the satisfaction of Customs that it was manufactured and, in the condition in which it was imported, was a constituent member ready to be assembled into a truss). Otherwise, 2” x 4” x 8’ general sawn lumber could arguably be classifiable in heading 4418, HTSUSA, as it is has the dimensions of lumber used for studs for framing walls.

Finally, we note New York Ruling Letter (NY) 812223, dated August 3, 1995, in which Customs classified rafters in heading 4418, HTSUSA. Unlike the instant square cut lumber, the “radial” rafters in NY 812223 were fully fabricated, shaped pieces of wood and were, therefore, properly classified in heading 4418, HTSUSA.


The subject lumber is classified in subheading 4407.10.0001, HTSUSA, which provides for “Wood sawn or chipped lengthwise, sliced or peeled, whether or not planed, sanded or end-jointed, of a thickness exceeding 6mm: Coniferous: Finger-jointed.” The applicable general column one rate of duty is “Free”.

The protest is hereby DENIED. In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, a copy of this decision attached to Customs Form 19 (Notice of Action) should be mailed to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this decision. Any additional Applications for Further Review currently being held in abeyance and involving merchandise and issues similar to those of the instant case should be disposed of by your office in a manner consistent with the analysis and holding above. Any reliquidation of the entry or entries in accordance with this decision must be accomplished prior to mailing the decision.

No later than sixty days from the date of this letter the Office of Regulations and Rulings will make this decision available to Customs personnel, and to the general public on the Customs Home Page on the World Wide Web at www.customs.gov, by means of the Freedom of Information Act and by other methods of public distribution.

Currently, the merchandise may be subject to antidumpting duties and/or countervailing duties. A list of AD/CVD proceedings at the Department of Commerce (DOC) and their product coverage can be obtained from the DOC website at: http://ia.ita.doc.gov, or you may write to them at the U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, Office of Antidumping Compliance, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, Washington, D.C. 20203.

Written decisions regarding the scope of AD/CVD orders are issued by the Import Administration in the Department of Commerce and are separate from tariff classification and origin rulings issued by Customs.


Myles B. Harmon, Acting Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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