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Court Rules on Classification of Shelled Pine Nuts

Wednesday, December 07, 2016
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

In a Dec. 2 decision, the Court of International Trade ruled that raw shelled pine nuts processed in and exported from China are properly classified as other shelled nuts under HTSUS 0802.90.97 (5 cents/kg duty). Plaintiff Specialty Commodities Inc. had argued that these pine nuts, which are the edible seeds of the Pinus koraiensis pine tree indigenous to northeast Asia, are classifiable as shelled pignolia nuts under HTSUS 0802.90.25 (1 cent/kg duty).

The plaintiff asserted that under both their common and commercial meanings all pine nuts, including those of the Pinus koraiensis, are pignolia. However, the CIT concluded that none of the sources cited by either side equates pignolia nuts with the pine nuts at issue, that U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not establish the meaning of “pignolia” in two ruling letters (NY F86911 and NY G89892) classifying oil and vinegar sets, and that the meaning of this term was not established in the Tariff Schedule of the U.S. so as to include the pine nuts at issue.

Instead, the CIT upheld CBP’s reliance on Explanatory Note 08.02, which indicates that pignolia nuts are specifically the seeds of the Pinus pinea, a species of pine tree indigenous to southern Europe, northern Africa, and parts of the Mediterranean.

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