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NY J80448

February 14, 2003

CLA-2-44:RR:NC:SP:230 J80448


TARIFF NO.: 4415.10.9000

Mr. Biao Tang
Feng & Biao Tang Partnership
1202 Glen Willow Road
Avondale, PA 19311

RE: The tariff classification of wooden boxes used to pack mushrooms, from China.

Dear Mr. Tang:

In your letter dated December 12, 2002, you requested a tariff classification ruling. In response to a telephone inquiry by this office, you submitted a statement indicating that there are no issues on the merchandise pending before U.S. Customs or any court. Over the telephone, you also confirmed that there are no open protests pending with U.S. Customs.

A sample of the item in question was submitted for our examination. It is an elliptical box measuring 4” wide by 12” long by 5” deep and having a plastic bottom, wooden sides and a removable wooden lid. The bottom consists of hard-plastic sheeting with 14 small holes (about 3/16” in diameter) scattered throughout. The slightly tapered sides of the box and the upper and lower rims are made of thin, flexible sheets and strips of wood. (The pieces of wood overlap but are not interlaced.) The box is held together by means of numerous staples placed along the upper and lower rims. A swiveling handle (of bent metal rod) is attached at the top center. The removable lid is a thin, continuous sheet of wood.

The above-described article, which you identify as a “3-lb. wooden basket,” will be imported for use in the harvesting and marketing/shipping of fresh mushrooms in the United States. (The box is designed to hold 3 lbs. of mushrooms.) In this process, each box will first be lined with paper, whereupon a worker will fill it with mushrooms as he harvests them in the mushroom house. Once the 3-lb. weight requirement is satisfied, the lid will be placed over the top. You explain that six of the filled baskets will then be “wrapped together in a bundle with wires to save space and for shipping purposes.” You add that the bundled boxes of mushrooms will then be “shipped to the mushroom distributors,” who will take them to market. As explained above, the box is made mainly of wood and plastic. Since there is considerably more wood than plastic, the wood will be regarded as the material that imparts the essential character to the box. The item will therefore be classified as a wood product in chapter 44 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS).

You have suggested classification in subheading 4415.10.6000, HTS, which provides for packing cases, boxes, cratesof wood: containers designed for use in the harvesting of fruits and vegetables. However, in C.J. Tower v. United States, 32 Cust. Ct. 54, C.D. 1579 (1954), the Customs Court defined the term “harvesting” to include the actual collection of fruit in the field and transportation to processing plants. Customs has uniformly applied the same definition of the term “harvesting” under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule as well as previous tariffs, that is, containers designed for use solely in harvesting. Containers used both for harvesting and for subsequent marketing and shipping purposes have been considered to be outside the scope of the 4415.10.6000 provision. While the subject boxes are used to collect mushrooms in the mushroom house, they additionally serve as containers in which the mushrooms are shipped to distributors and customers. We thus find that they are not eligible for classification in subheading 4415.10.6000, HTS.

We have also considered the possible applicability of subheading 4415.10.3000, HTS, which provides for wooden packing boxes and cases with solid sides, lids and bottoms. However, as described above, the bottoms of the subject boxes have numerous holes in them, and the sides—made up of numerous overlapping pieces of wood—are neither one-piece nor continuous, due to cracks in the wood and small gaps between some of the pieces. Thus, since the sides and bottoms are not “solid,” subheading 4415.10.3000, HTS, does not apply.

The applicable subheading for the wood/plastic boxes for mushrooms will be 4415.10.9000, HTS, which provides for packing cases, boxes, crates, drums and similar packings, of wood: other. The rate of duty will be 10.7%.

The holding set forth above applies only to the specific factual situation and merchandise description as identified in the ruling request. This position is clearly set forth in 19 CFR 177.9(b)(1). This section states that a ruling letter is issued on the assumption that all of the information furnished in the ruling letter, either directly, by reference, or by implication, is accurate and complete in every material respect.

This ruling is being issued under the assumption that the subject goods, in their condition as imported into the United States, conform to the facts and the description as set forth both in the ruling request and in this ruling. In the event that the facts or merchandise are modified in any way, you should bring this to the attention of Customs and you should resubmit for a new ruling in accordance with 19 CFR 177.2. You should also be aware that the material facts described in the foregoing ruling may be subject to periodic verification by the Customs Service.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 177).

A copy of the ruling or the control number indicated above should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If you have any questions regarding the ruling, contact National Import Specialist Paul Garretto at 646-733-3035.


Robert B. Swierupski

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