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Court Rules on Classification of Pliers

Friday, September 22, 2017
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Court of International Trade ruled Sept. 21 that five styles of a hand tool collectively referred to as locking pliers are properly classified as pliers under HTSUS 8203.20.6030. The CIT explained that these items meet that subheading’s definition of pliers as versatile hand tools having two handles and two jaws on a pivot that can be squeezed together to enable the tools to grasp an object. The CIT rejected U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s classification of these tools as wrenches under HTSUS 8204.12.00 and the plaintiff’s alternative classification as vises or clamps under HTSUS 8203.20 because the tools do not meet the descriptions in those subheadings.

CBP asked the CIT to reconsider its previous decision in this case, arguing that the court’s definition of pliers erroneously includes locking pliers, that its definition of wrenches excludes certain tools that are known and marketed as wrenches, and that the use of the tools at issue supports their classification as wrenches. However, the court found that CBP was merely attempting to resurrect arguments already considered and rejected and offered no reasons for reconsideration beyond its disagreement with the court’s opinion.

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