United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 2003 HQ Rulings > HQ 116015 - HQ 229481 > HQ 229011

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 229011

April 13, 2001

RR:CR:DR 229011 IDL


Port Director of Customs
200 Granby St. Ste.839
Norfolk, VA 23510

RE: Application for Further Review of Protest No. 1401-00-100101; 19 USC 1520(c)(1)

Dear Sir:

The above referenced protest was forwarded to this office for further review. We have considered the evidence provided, the arguments made by the Protestant, and Customs records.


The subject protest covers one entry, 906-2510077-2, entered into the United States on November 18, 1999, during a period in which GSP had lapsed. The entry was reliquidated on September 29, 2000. The importer of record is Weber Piano Co., who is the Protestant in this case. Western Overseas, Customhouse broker, transmitted entry summary using the SPI "A" on line 1 but failed to indicate "A" on line 2. When GSP was subsequently approved with a retroactive date, Headquarters began processing refunds of entry summaries filed with the SPI "A" indicator.

The first line of the CF 7501 contains one line of merchandise, which consists of: 34 GRAND PIANO'S; UPRIGHT PIANOS; tariff classification A9201.10.0000; rate of duty of 4.7% ad valorem; and a duty amount of $1,XXX. The exporting country and country of origin is listed as "MULTI" (required when a single entry summary covers merchandise from more than one country of origin). The second line of the CF 7501 contains one line of merchandise, which consists of: GRAND PIANOS; tariff classification 9201.20.0000 (without a prefix); rate of duty of 4.7% ad valorem; and a duty amount of $4,XXX. The exporting country and country of origin is listed as "MULTI."

On June 29, 2000, Western Overseas Corp. filed a Section 1520(c)(1) petition requesting refund of all duties paid on this entry. The petition was approved for line 1 (A indicator was transmitted) but denied for line 2 because filer had failed to transmit the SPI "A" indicator. Western Overseas Corporation asserts a Sec. 1520(c)(1) claim involving clerical error, mistake of fact, or other inadvertence in failing to timely request a refund. The importer protests the classification used in Customs decision, dated August 4, 2000, as it applies to invoice number 2.

Importer's Position:
The broker asserts that it miss-described the country of origin with respect to line item two on the entry. The respective portion of column 28 for line item two should have listed "ECZ" (Czech Republic) rather than "EDE"(Germany) as the ISO designation. The entry invoice contains the statement: "Made in Czech Republic". The broker asserts that it failed to place the Special Tariff Treatment symbol "A" on the entry papers, which would have been treated as a request for preference under the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 ("1999 Act"), Pub.L. 106-170, Dec. 17, 1999, 113 Stat. 1860, 1923.

Protestant contends that since Customs agrees that the country of origin should be Czech Republic, the appropriate classification for the subject merchandise would be 9201.20.0000, with the prefix "A." Protestant claims that the addition of the prefix becomes part of the appropriate classification. Since Customs had the entry summary and associated documents in its possession prior to the date of liquidation, Protestant claims that Customs should have had reason to know that the merchandise was eligible for the Generalized System of Preferences.

Further, Protestant claims that the "clerk classifying the invoices and keying the data in the computer inadvertently (clerical error) keyed Germany as the country of origin for Grand Pianos covered by invoice number two, line two of the entry."

Therefore, Protestant concludes, Customs has erred in its decision in not refunding the additional duties deposited. Protestant contends that, under the requirements of 19 CFR 174.24(b), this issue involves questions of law or fact which have not been ruled upon by the Commissioner of Customs, or his designee, or of the Customs Courts.


(1) Whether the failure to put a GSP indicator on the entry papers when GSP did not exist constitutes an inadvertence not amounting to a legal construction error?

(2) Whether Protestant's application for further review meets the requirements of 19 CFR 174.24(b)?


Issue (1)
On June 30, 1999, duty-free treatment under the Generalized System of Preferences expired. On December 17, 1999, President Clinton signed into law the 1999 Act, which provided for retroactive extension of duty free treatment under GSP, as follows:

(2) Retroactive Application for Certain Liquidations and Reliquidations- (A) General Rule-...[S]ubject to paragraph (3), any entry- (i) of an article to which duty-free treatment... would have applied if such entry had been made on July 1, 1999, and such title had been in effect on July 1, 1999; and (ii) that was made-
(I) after June 30, 1999; and
(II) before the date of the enactment of this Act, shall be liquidated or reliquidated as free of duty, and the Secretary of the Treasury shall refund any duty paid with respect to such entry. (3) Requests-
Liquidation or reliquidation may be made under paragraph (2) with respect to an entry only if a request therefore is filed with the Customs Service, within 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act....

On December 22, 1999, Customs issued Administrative Message 0356071, instructing ABI filers who elected to transmit their entries via ABI without the SPI "A", and non-ABI filers, regardless of their use of the SPI "A", to request a refund in writing from the Port Director at the Port of Entry on or before June 13, 2000 (180 days from the enactment of the 1999 Act). The entry was reliquidated on September 29, 2000.

Under 19 U.S.C. Sec. 1520(c)(1), Customs may reliquidate an entry to correct a clerical error, mistake of fact, or other inadvertence, not amounting to an error in the construction of a law and adverse to the importer, when such clerical error, mistake of fact or other inadvertence is manifest from the record (i.e. apparent to Customs from a facial examination of the entry and the entry papers alone, thus requiring no further substantiation (HQ 228136)), or established by documentary evidence. Protestant can prove clerical error occurred by demonstrating the intent of the person preparing the entry document in which the error was allegedly made (HQ 227782), but where there is no evidence as to that person's intent, as in this case, the evidence is insufficient to sustain a claim of clerical error. See Pacific Trading Co. v. United States, 20 Cust. Ct. 170, C.D. 1103 (1948); Francisco Castelazo v. United States, 20 Cust. Ct. 294, C.D. 1250 (1950).

Protestant asserts that the error was not the result of an error in the construction of law. Protestant states that the "clerk... inadvertently (clerical error)" classified the pianos with German country of origin. Inadvertence involves an oversight or involuntary accident, or is the result of inattention or carelessness, and even a type of mistake. Aviall of Texas, Inc. v. United States, 70 F. 3d 1248, 1250 (Fed. Cir. 1995).

Protestant fails to elaborate on the identity of the clerk. Nevertheless, our examination of the records does not demonstrate that a clerical error, mistake of fact, or other inadvertence occurred; nor do the records establish such sufficient documentary evidence. The lack of evidence corroborating Protestant's assertion precludes Customs from accepting such assertion. See Bar Bea Truck Leasing Co., Inc. v. United States, 5 CIT 124, 126 (1983).

As noted above, Protestant/ABI filer transmitted entry summary (without GSP prefix) on November 18, 1999, during the period in which GSP had lapsed. Since GSP eligibility did not then exist, the failure to place a special tariff treatment indicator on the entry cannot be characterized as an error on the entry. Rather, Protestant's failure to make a request in accordance with the retroactive provisions of the 1999 Act caused denial of reliquidation. Such failure has not been shown to be the result of a mistake under 19 USC 1520(c)(1).

In Executone Information Systems v. United States, 96 F.3d 1383 (Fed. Cir. 1996), the court stated that a mistaken belief by the entry filer that it filed a form could be an error correctable under 19 USC 1520(c)(1). Here, there is no evidence, documentary or otherwise, showing that the broker thought that it filed a claim in accordance with the retroactive provisions after enactment of the 1999 Act. As there was no request under the 1999 Act to accord retroactive GSP treatment to merchandise shown to be eligible for that treatment, the reliquidation of September 29, 2000 does not appear to be erroneous.

Furthermore, even if we assume that the broker' s incorrect description of the country of origin on the entry papers was supported by documentary evidence, as required by 19 USC 1520(c)(1), that error is not shown to be the cause of the broker's failure to request the benefit of GSP treatment under the retroactive provision of the 1999 Act, which required a claimant to make a claim with Customs within 180 days after enactment. Administrative Message 0356071 also instructed filers on how to obtain a refund. Clearly, Protestant's error resulted in its own failure to file a timely retroactive claim, as provided by the 1999 Act. To the extent that the liquidation was protestable, the alleged error in that liquidation could only have been corrected by the filing of a 19 U.S.C. Sec. 1514 protest within 90 days of the original liquidation. (HQ 227023). Sec. 1520(c)(1) is not an alternative to a Sec. 1514 claim. Sec. 1520(c)(1) provides for "limited relief in the situations defined therein." Phillips Petroleum Company v. United States, 54 CCPA 7, 11, C.A.D. 893 (1966), quoted in Godchaux-Henderson Sugar Co., Inc. v. United States, 85 Cust. Ct. 68, 69, C.D. 4874, 496 F. Supp. 1326 (1980).

Moreover, in order to qualify for GSP treatment, the pianos must have been produced, manufactured, or assembled in a designated beneficiary developing country. In addition, the sum of the cost or value of the pianos produced in the Czech Republic plus the direct costs of processing operations performed in the Czech Republic must have been at least 35 percent of the appraised value of the pianos at the time of entry into the customs territory of the U.S. (See General Note 4(c), HTSUS, 1999; 19 CFR 10.176 and 10.178). Importer failed to present evidence of compliance with such requirements.

Issue (2)
Protestant based his right to further review on 19 CFR 174.24(b), claiming issues involving "questions of law or fact which have not been ruled upon by the Commissioner of Customs, or his designee, or of the Customs Courts." In fact, the Office of Regulations and Rulings has already ruled upon similar questions of law or fact. HQ 228136 (May 11, 1998) addresses a protest involving the GSP Renewal Act of August 20, 1996 ("1996 Act"), as it pertains to merchandise that would have been eligible for duty-free entry had the Generalized System of Preferences not lapsed prior to its importation.

In that dispute, as here, the Protestant failed to use the special program indicator prefix in its classification of entered merchandise. Customs ruled that consistent with the provisions of the 1996 Act, the Protestant had to have filed a retroactive application for a refund within 180 days from the date of the enactment of that Act; that the Port liquidation was correct, since the Port liquidated the entry in accordance with the entry documents submitted by Protestant.

Similarly, the 1999 Act made provisions for retroactive GSP application. As noted above, Administrative Message 0356071 instructed filers to request a refund in writing from the Port Director within 180 days from the enactment of that Act. Since HQ 228136 addresses this issue, the Port should have denied Protestant's request for further review.


Accordingly, the protest should be denied. 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.


William G. Rosoff
Duty and Refund Determination Branch

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: