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Swimming Pool Floats Classified as Inflatable Plastic Articles, Court Says

Wednesday, July 25, 2018
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Court of International Trade ruled July 23 that items designed for the flotation of users in swimming pools, lakes, and similar bodies of water are properly classified as inflatable plastic articles under HTSUS 3926.90.75 (4.2 percent duty). U.S. Customs and Border Protection had classified these floats as other made up articles of textile fabric under HTSUS 6307.90.98 (7 percent duty).

The subject goods contain an inflatable polyvinyl chloride bladder that, when inflated with air, provides flotation. The bladder is surrounded by a flexible steel rod encased in polypropylene tubing that allows the deflated float to be folded neatly for storage and to spring into position when unfolded. The bladder and steel rod are wrapped completely in woven polyester fabric. Most of the models at issue include a woven elastomer mesh stretched flat across the center of the float that supports the user.

The CIT states that the floats are not correctly described as articles of textile fabric in heading 6307, noting that although some of their components are made of polyester fabric they contain significant components that are not made of textile materials. Similarly, the floats do not fall within the scope of the terms of heading 3926 due to the presence of significant components that are not made of plastic.

Finding that neither the textile materials nor the plastic materials impart the essential character of the floats because they are not present in predominant proportions, the CIT concludes that the PVC bladder provides the essential character because not only is its flotation function essential to the functioning of the finished article, it also imparts a defining characteristic that is fundamental to the article’s commercial identity.

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