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HQ 966170

July 18, 2003

CLA-2 RR: CR: GC 966170 TPB


TARIFF NO.: 8544.41.40

Port Director
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
3150 Tchulahoma Road
Suite 1
Memphis TN, 38118

RE: Ribbon Cable

Dear Port Director:

This is in reference to a transmittal from the Service Port of Mobile dated December 31, 2002, forwarding a letter to you dated December 20, 2002, in which Lucent Technologies Inc. (“Lucent”), requests internal advice on the classification of ribbon cable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”).


The merchandise in question consists of ribbon cable that is used to connect various electrical cabinets in a telecommunications switching network. The specific cable itself (Part Number ED5D585-13 G47) is used to make up Lucent’s “5ESS Switch”. The 5ESS switch is made up of separate cabinets (referred to as “bays”). The bays are configured into the major components of the 5ESS Switch called “Administrative Modules”, Communications Modules” and “Switching Modules”. The Communications Module switches messages between the Switching Module, Administrative Module and Communications Module; provides timing synchronization; and switches data/voice. The cable transmits control and diagnostic data between the bays.

Part Number ED5D585-13 G47 is a ribbon type cable that is about 11 feet long made up of 32 copper wires in a protective and insulating sheath. Connectors are at each end of the cable. The cables are for voltages not exceeding 80 volts.


Whether the ribbon cable is of a class or kind used for telecommunications.


Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (“GRIs”). 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 GRIs may then be applied.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (“ENs”) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. While neither legally binding nor dispositive, the ENs 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.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

Insulated (including enameled or anodized) wire, cable (including coaxial cable) and other insulated electric conductors, whether or not fitted with connectors.

Other electric conductors, for a voltage not exceeding 80V:

Fitted with connectors

Of a kind used for telecommunications

8544.41.80 Other

GRI 6, HTSUS, provides as follows:

6. For legal purposes, the classification of goods in the subheadings of a heading shall be determined according to the terms of those subheadings and any related subheading notes and, mutatis mutandis, to the above rules on the understanding that only subheadings at the same level are comparable. For the purposes of this rule, the relative section, chapter and subchapter notes also apply, unless the context otherwise requires.

To ensure that uniformity can be maintained at the subheading level, GRIs 1 to 5 govern classification in subheading levels within the same heading. After determining the appropriate heading in accordance with the first five rules, we then apply the GRIs again, to the appropriate subheadings.

When making comparisons of subheadings, we compare the same level six-digit to six-digit, or eight-digit to eight-digit, also taking into consideration section and chapter notes at the subheading level, unless the context otherwise requires.

Subheading 8544.41.40, HTSUS provides for other insulated wire, cable and other electrical conductors, fitted with connectors, that are of a kind used for telecommunications. When an article is classifiable according to the use of the class or kind of goods to which it belongs, Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(a), HTSUS, provides that:

[i]n the absence of special language or context which otherwise requires-- (a) a tariff classification controlled by use (other than actual use) is to be determined in accordance with the use in the United States at, or immediately prior to, the date of importation, of goods of that class or kind to which the imported goods belong, and the controlling use is the principal use. In other words, the article's principal use at the time of importation determines whether it is classifiable within a particular class or kind.

While Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(a), HTSUS, provides general criteria for discerning the principal use of an article, it does not provide specific criteria for individual tariff provisions.

However, the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT) has provided factors, which are indicative but not conclusive, to apply when determining whether merchandise falls within a particular class or kind. They include: general physical characteristics, the expectation of the ultimate purchaser, channels of trade, environment of sale (accompanying accessories, manner of advertisement and display), use in the same manner as merchandise which defines the class, economic practicality of so using the import, and recognition in the trade of this use. See: Kraft, Inc., v. U.S., USITR, 16 CIT 483, (June 24, 1992); G. Heilman Brewing Co. v. U.S., USITR, 14 CIT 614 (Sept. 6, 1990); and U.S. v. Carborundum Company, 63 CCPA 98, C.A.D. 1172, 536 F. 2d 373 (1976), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 979. In this case, the ribbon cable is approximately 11 feet long and is made up of copper wires in a protective insulating sheath. The cables are designed to meet the Network Equipment-Building System (“NEBS”) requirements for central office switching equipment, which is a higher standard than those for commercial products. The components of the ribbon cable meet the physical, electromagnetic and safety requirements of central office equipment as specified under NEBS. The cables are made specifically for the 5ESS Switch for Lucent and come with 982-Type connectors which are used exclusively with telecommunications equipment. The ultimate consumer of these cables is Lucent, who uses them with their telecommunications equipment. As these are not “off the shelf” products, no advertising or descriptive literature was available.

EN 85.44 describes the scope of that heading and provides examples of the types of merchandise that are covered. It reads, in pertinent part, that the heading covers, inter alia:

(3) Telecommunications wires and cables (including submarine cables and data transmission wires and cables) are generally made up of a pair, a quad or a cable core, the whole usually covered with a sheath. A pair or a quad consists of two or four insulated wires, respectively (each wire is made up of a single copper conductor insulated with a coloured material of plastics having a thickness not exceeding 0.5 mm), twisted together. A cable core consists of a single pair or a quad or multiple stranded pairs or quads.

While we find the EN to be illustrative of telecommunications cables’ construction in general, we do not find the list to be exhaustive. The fact that these sheathed wires are constructed in a flat ribbon rather than twisted would not preclude them from being of a class or kind used in telecommunications.

Based upon the information provided to us, we find that the ribbon cable, part number ED5D585-13 G47, belongs to a class or kind of cable principally used for telecommunications and is classifiable under subheading 8544.41.10, HTSUS, which provides for cable fitted with connectors used for telecommunications.


For the reasons set forth above, through application of GRI 1 through GRI 6, the ribbon cable, part number ED5D585-13 G47, is classifiable under subheading 8544.41.40, HTSUS, which provides for: “Insulated (including enameled or anodized) wire, cable (including coaxial cable) and other insulated electric conductors, whether or not fitted with connectors: other electric conductors, for a voltage not exceeding 80V: fitted with connectors: of a kind used for telecommunications.”

This decision should be mailed to the internal advice requestor no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Sixty days from the date of the decision, the Office of Regulations and Rulings will make the decision available to Customs and Border Protection personnel, and to the public on the Customs and Border Protection Home Page on the World Wide Web at http://www.cbp.gov/, by means of the Freedom of Information Act, and other methods of public distribution.


Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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