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Classification of Steel Tube Fittings Still Being Disputed

Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

In February 2016 U.S. Customs and Border Protection received a petition submitted on behalf of a domestic manufacturer of hydraulic connectors, fittings, and adapters requesting the reclassification of steel tube fittings from Taiwan. These fittings connect a piece of rigid tubing to a valve, manifold, or other piece of rigid tubing in a hydraulic system. Following CBP’s denial of the petition, the petitioner has filed notice of its desire to contest that decision.

In ruling NY E83408 CBP classified this fitting as other steel tube or pipe fittings under HTSUS 7307.99.50 (4.3 percent duty), reasoning that the fitting is a part of general use. The petitioner contended that the fitting should be classified as other engine and motor parts under HTSUS 8412.90.90 (duty-free) because it is solely imported, sold, and specifically designed according to hydraulic system industry specifications for use in the assembly of particular hydraulic engine or motor systems. The petitioner asserted that some of its competitors were classifying all or a substantial portion of similar fittings under 8412.90.90, which put the petitioner at a competitive disadvantage.

In ruling HQ H259349 issued in October 2016 CBP denied the petition and affirmed the previous classification. The petitioner then filed a timely notice of its desire to contest that decision and designated eight ports of entry at which it desires to protest (Seattle, Tacoma, Long Beach, Los Angeles, New York, Savannah, Houston, and Charleston).

CBP has directed the directors of these ports to make available to the petitioner, upon request, information on subject fittings entered after Jan. 16 to enable the petitioner to determine whether those entries raise the issue involved in the petition. The port directors are also being directed to notify the petitioner by mail when the first of such entries is liquidated.

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