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HQ 966635

October 22, 2003

CLA-2: RR:CR:TE 966635 ASM


TARIFF NO.: 6110.30.3055

Donna L. Shira, Esq.
Sharretts, Paley, Carter & Blauvelt, P.C. Twenty-Five Broad Street
New York, NY 10004

RE: Request for Binding Ruling; Double Layer Woman’s Knit top

Dear Ms. Shira:

This is in response to your request on behalf of your client, Golden Touch, dated June 10, 2003, concerning the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated of a woman’s knit top. Samples have been provided to the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP).


The subject garment is identified as a woman’s knit top, Style No. 52703. It is a black knit top consisting of two layers. The exterior layer is entirely constructed of 100 percent nylon knit mesh fabric and features a round neckline. The ¾ length sleeves and lower edge of the mesh layer have turned hems that have been secured with stitching that is visible on the exterior of the garment. The neckline has been finished with a knit capping. The interior layer, which is readily visible underneath the mesh exterior, is constructed of a fine gauge knit layer made of 95 percent cotton and 5 percent spandex. The interior layer also features a knit shelf bra panel with a 1-inch wide elastic band at the lower edge. The knit straps are approximately ¼ inch wide and constructed of a single length of fabric. This strap measures a total of approximately 22 inches in length as follows: 5 inches from the top of the front shoulder to underarm, 12 more inches from front to back of the underarm, and approximately 5 more inches from the back underarm to the top of the back shoulder. These two end pieces are then joined at the top inside shoulder seam of the mesh layer. This causes both layers of the garment to be securely joined at the shoulder. The same knit capping appears at the front and back neckline of the inner layer. The lower edge of the inner layer features a turned hem with double seaming.


What is the proper classification for the merchandise?


Classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (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 heading and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI 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, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).

CBP begins by noting that the subject article cannot be classified in accordance with GRI 1 because it is prima facie classifiable in two different subheadings. The exterior layer, if taken separately, is constructed of 100 percent nylon mesh fabric and may be classified in subheading 6110.30.3055, HTSUSA, which provides for “Sweaters, pullovers, . . . and similar articles, knitted or crocheted: Of man-made fibers: Other: Other: Other, Other: Other: Women’s or girls’.” The interior layer is constructed of fabric which is 95 percent cotton/5 percent spandex and may be separately classified in subheading 6109.10.0060, HTSUSA, which provides for “T-Shirts, singlets, tank tops and similar garments, knitted or crocheted: Of cotton, Women’s or girls’: Other: Tank tops: Women’s.”

GRI 2(a) is not applicable to the subject merchandise since it covers incomplete or unfinished goods. GRI 2(b) directs that the classification of goods consisting of more than one material shall be determined according to the principles of GRI 3. GRI 3 establishes a hierarchy of methods of classifying goods that fall under two or more headings. GRI 3(a) states that the heading providing the most specific description is to be preferred to a heading, which provides a more general description. However, GRI 3(a) indicates that when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials or substances in a composite good or to part only of the items in a set put up for retail sale, those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description than the other.

In this case, heading 6110, HTSUSA, and heading 6109, HTSUSA, each refer to only part of the component pieces of the subject garment. Thus, pursuant to GRI 3(a), we must consider the headings equally specific in relation to the goods. Accordingly, the goods are classifiable pursuant to GRI 3(b) which provides that “composite goods made up of different components” are to be classified as if they consisted of the component that gives them their essential character. However, for GRI 3(b) to apply, the article must meet the definition of a “composite good”.

Pursuant to GRI 3(b), composite goods made up of different components include those, which are attached to each other to form a practically inseparable whole. See EN, Note IX, to GRI 3(b). In the subject case, both components are securely joined and inseparable at the time of importation. As such, they are designed to be used together to form a single garment because the interior layer provides support and coverage for the wearer’s upper body beneath the sheer mesh exterior. In CBP Headquarters Ruling (HQ) 961404, dated April 6, 2001, we determined that a sheer dress with a permanently attached slip-like liner was classified as a single garment under a composite good GRI 3(b) analysis. In HQ 961404, we reasoned that the sheer dress and lining could not be separated without harm to the garment and that these components were complementary in texture, material, and color. In following this precedent, we note that the subject article is constructed in such a way that it could not be separated without damaging the garment. Thus, it is our decision that the subject garment is a composite good.

The factors which determine essential character will vary between different types of goods. Based on EN, Note VIII, GRI 3(b), essential character may be determined by “. . . the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods”. Although the subject garment has a substantial interior component that is visible when worn, it is our opinion that the exterior layer of the garment conveys the essential character by imparting the unique mesh fabric which provides a significant visual and decorative effect. This analysis applies the same factors used in HQ 960960, dated April 10, 2001, to determine the essential character of a double layer upper body garment pursuant to a GRI 3(b) analysis.

In view of the foregoing, it is our decision that pursuant to a GRI 3(b) analysis, the subject garment must be considered a composite good and is properly classified as a single garment whose essential character is imparted by the exterior mesh layer.


The subject garment, identified as Style No. 52703, is classifiable pursuant to a GRI 3(b) analysis in subheading 6110.30.3055, HTSUSA, which provides for “Sweaters, pullovers, sweatshirts, waistcoats (vests) and similar articles, knitted or crocheted: Of man-made fibers: Other: Other: Other, Other: Other: Women’s or girls’.” The general column one duty rate is 32.2 percent ad valorem. The textile category is 639.

The designated textile and apparel category may be subdivided into parts. If so, the 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 renegotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available, we suggest that your client check, close to the time of shipment, the Textile Status Report for Absolute Quotas, previously available on the Customs Electronic Bulletin Board (CEBB), which is available now on the CBP Webster at www.customs.gov.

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


Myles B. Harmon, Director

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