The Court of International Trade ruled in favor of U.S. Customs and Border Protection regarding the classification of certain cast iron counterweights. Plaintiff Norca Engineered Products had challenged CBP’s classification of certain cast iron counterweights under 8431.49.9044. These counterweights of various weights are installed on different models of the Doosan Bobcat mini or compact excavators.The counterweights attach to the lower aft portion of the machine to provide balance and prevent the excavator from tipping over. At issue was whether the machine of which the counterweights are a part should be classified as an “excavator: other” or as a “backhoe” for tariff purposes. Classification as a backhoe subjects the counterweights to the Section 301 tariffs when imported from China.

In 2019, the Customs import specialist determined that the appropriate HTSUS classification was 8431.49.9044, holding that this classification covers parts of a self-propelled mini excavator as a “backhoe”. Between December 11, 2019, and December 22, 2020, Norca submitted fifteen protests. In the protests, Norca continued to assert that the proper classification for the counterweights was 8431.49.9095, “excavator: other”. Customs denied these protests. After receiving the denials, Norca filed a complaint challenging the Customs classification.

The CIT agreed that government properly classified the subject merchandise under subheading 8431.49.9044, so the products are subject to Section 301 tariffs when imported from China.

However, the parties agreed that counterweights weighing between 400 kg and 600 kg, even if determined to be parts of backhoes, qualify for an exclusion under 85 Fed. Reg. 9921.  The parties therefore agreed that the counterweights weighing between 400 kg and 600 kg are excluded from the China Section 301 tariffs.

For more information on how to seek or utilize classification and other rulings, please contact attorney Deb Stern at (305) 894-1007 or via email.

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Deborah B. Stern
Partner, Advisory Committee

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