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Court Rules on Classification of Two Chemical Substances

Friday, September 04, 2015
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Court of International Trade ruled Sept. 3 that two products – acetyl l-carnitine taurinate hydrochloride with 1.5 percent silica and glycine propionyl l-carnitine hydrochloride USP with 1.5 percent silica – are properly classified as quaternary ammonium salts under HTSUS 2923.90.00 (6.2 percent duty) but are not included in the pharmaceutical appendix to the HTSUS and thus eligible for duty-free treatment. Plaintiff Sigma-Tau Healthscience Inc. had argued for classification as vitamins under HTSUS 2936.29.50 (duty-free).

The court stated that the classification of these two products hinges upon their primary and only active component, l-carnitine. It is undisputed that this product is a quaternary ammonium salt classifiable in HTSUS heading 2923, but it is also commonly known as vitamin Bt and thus classifiable in HTSUS heading 2936. Pursuant to General Rule of Interpretation 3(a), the court found that the term “quaternary ammonium salt” more specifically describes l-carnitine than “vitamins” because it wholly describes the product and is specifically enumerated as the first item in the heading.

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