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Proposed Reinterpretation of Classification Rules Withdrawn

Thursday, December 26, 2019
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has withdrawn a proposal to reclassify the following items following objections filed by Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg and others.

- men’s shorts of 50 percent linen and 50 percent viscose rayon fiber blend, which will remain classified as shorts of other textile materials under HTSUS 6203.49.8060

- men’s shirts of 50 percent linen and 50 percent viscose rayon fiber blend, which will remain classified as shirts of other textile materials under HTSUS 6205.90.4040

- dust skirts of 50 percent polyester and 50 percent cotton, which will remain classified as bed valances of cotton under HTSUS 6303.91.0000

- men’s knit sweaters of 50 percent cotton and 50 percent silk knit fabric, which will remain classified as sweaters of other textile materials under HTSUS 6110.90.9010

- sleeveless knit tunic-type garments made of 50 percent wool and 50 percent silk fabric, which will remain classified as pullovers of other textile materials under HTSUS 6110.90.0074

According to comments filed by ST&R, note 2(a) and subheading note 2(a) to HTSUS Section XI, in combination with General Rule of Interpretation 3(c), have historically been interpreted to mean that when assessing the heading or subheading that is last in numerical order, one reviews the potential competing classifications of the finished goods. These notes do not direct one to (a) classify the raw material out of which the garments are constructed, (b) determine which raw material is classified last in numerical order within a raw material heading or subheading, and (c) then classify the finished good according to that raw material falling last in numerical order. By overturning this practice, ST&R said, CBP’s proposal would have materially and improperly altered the plain meaning of the rules and was therefore “patently incorrect.”

The American Apparel and Footwear Association asserted that CBP offered no reason for proposing “a major change” that would have altered “a well-established industry practice that has been backed up by decades of Customs rulings.” ST&R added that the proposal would have imposed “a significant amount of additional burden on importers of apparel and made-up textile articles,” including not only goods made of 50/50 fiber content but also reversible goods, goods with multiple components, and sets. The AAFA noted that CBP’s proposal appeared to be a de facto change in the way the Explanatory Notes are interpreted, which “cannot be made unilaterally but must be done at the international level by the Harmonized System Review Committee.”

In light of these comments, CBP has determined not to revoke rulings NY H84223, NY F89120, NY H84975, HQ 085998, HQ 085150, and HQ 088132, which will therefore remain in effect.

For more information, please contact customs attorney Elise Shibles at (415) 490-1403.

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