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Rule of Relative Specificity Invoked in Classification Case

Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Court of International Trade has ruled that artichoke antipasto and green olive tapenade are properly classified as sauces under HTSUS 2103.90.90 rather than as other prepared or preserved vegetables under HTSUS 2005.99.80 or HTSUS 2005.99.97.

The subject antipasto consists of quartered artichokes, artichoke juice, canola oil, and other ingredients. The tapenade consists of preserved sliced green olives; diced tomatoes, red peppers, carrots, and onions; and other ingredients. In both cases the ingredients are blended in a food processor, cooked, and then rendered commercially sterile after being cooked again in a retort process. The finished products, which have a chunky consistency, are sold as-is without the intention that they will undergo further processing by the purchaser.

The CIT states that these goods are classifiable as vegetable products under heading 2005 and that the preparation procedures do not change the essence of the goods from predominantly artichoke and olive products to make them new items. However, they are also classifiable as sauces under heading 2103 because they are mixtures of ingredients in semisolid form that add flavoring to food.

The CIT concludes that the requirements of heading 2103 are more difficult to satisfy because preparing a sauce involves some degree of processing or adding ingredients. As a result, under the rule of relative specificity, the subject goods are classified under heading 2103.

In addition, because the subject goods were subject to a change in tariff classification under the HTSUS when processed in Canada, they are eligible for duty-free treatment under NAFTA rule of origin preference.

For more information on trade litigation issues, please contact Lee Sandler at (305) 894-1000.

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