CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 082788 WAW

Mr. John B. Baker
Progressive International Corp.
8300 Military Road South
Seattle, WA 98108-3901

RE: Plastic cooler with a built-in radio

Dear Mr. Baker:

Your letter of May 26, 1988, to our New York office, has been referred to this office for reply concerning the tariff classification of a plastic cooler with a built-in radio under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). A sample of the above referenced item was submitted with your letter.


The submitted article is a moulded plastic insulated cooler, referred to as the "Chill Cask." The item is rectangular and measures approximately 9-1/2 inches by 9 inches by 7 inches. The cooler contains one central compartment with a circular-shaped side opening designed to hold a container with a pour spout. Inside the cooler there is a plastic bottle-like canteen that can be filled with water and frozen in order to keep food or beverages cool. In addition, there is a small transistor radio built into the lid of the cooler. The lid can be secured by properly aligning it over two plastic clips on either side of the cooler.


(1) Whether the merchandise at issue is classifiable as a composite good for tariff purposes?

(2) If considered a composite good, which item provides the essential character for classification purposes; and if not considered a composite good, how are the items properly classified?


The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) set forth the manner in which merchandise is to be classified under the HTSUSA. GRI 1 requires that classification be determined first according to the terms of the headings of the tariff and any relative section or chapter notes and, unless otherwise required, according to the remaining GRI's, taken in order.

In the instant case, the first issue to be considered is whether the plastic cooler and the transistor radio are all included under one heading in the Nomenclature. The relevant subheadings at issue in this case are set forth below. The plastic cooler alone is classifiable under subheading 3923.10.0000, HTSUSA, which provides for articles for the conveyance or packing of goods, of plastics; boxes, cases, crates and similar articles. Subheading 8527.19.0030, HTSUSA, which provides for, inter alia, reception apparatus for radiotelephony, whether or not combined, in the same housing, with sound recording or reproducing apparatus or a clock: other, properly classifies the transistor radio at issue.

Since no heading, by itself, covers the subject merchandise, classification cannot be determined by applying GRI 1. Therefore, reference to the subsequent GRI's is necessary. GRI 2 is not applicable here because the item in question is not an incomplete or unfinished article and is not a mixture or combination of goods.

GRI 3, however, is applicable in this situation. It provides in pertinent part:

When, by application of Rule 2(b) or for any other reason, goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows:

(a) The heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description. However, when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods or to part only of the items in a set put up for retail sale, those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description of the goods.

Since the plastic cooler and the radio fall under separate headings in the HTSUSA, the headings are to be regarded as equally specific under GRI 3(a). Therefore, GRI 3(a) fails in establishing classification, and GRI 3(b) becomes applicable.

GRI 3(b) provides:

(b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

Explanatory Note IX to GRI 3(b) to the HTSUSA, which constitutes the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, provides, in part:

(IX) For the purposes of this Rule, composite goods made up of different components shall be taken to mean not only those in which the components are attached to each other to form a practically inseparable whole but also those with separable components, provided these components are adapted one to the other and are mutually complementary and that together they form a whole which would not normally be offered for sale in separate parts.

* * * * * * * *

As a general rule, the components of these composite goods are put in a common packing.

In the instant case, the plastic cooler and the radio qualify as composite goods as defined in GRI 3(b). They are two components adapted one to the other, mutually complementary, and together form a whole which would not normally be offered for sale in separate parts. Since the subject merchandise cannot be classified by reference to GRI 3(a), we must determine which component, if any, imparts the essential character of the item pursuant to the factors set out in the applicable Explanatory Note.

Explanatory Note VIII to GRI 3(b) states that:

(VIII) The factor which determines essential character will vary as between different kinds of goods. It may, for example, be determined by the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

In this case, the essential character of the subject merchandise is readily apparent. It is the position of this office that the plastic cooler gives the article its essential character. The cooler comprises the bulk of the article, whereas the radio is merely incorporated into the lid of the cooler. The article is a container primarily designed for the convenience of the user while traveling. Its function is not only to store and preserve food and beverages, but also to hold beverages in containers that have pour spouts. Moreover, a consumer is more likely to purchase the article for use as a container to preserve food and beverages while traveling, rather than as a transistor radio. Accordingly, it is Customs position that the plastic cooler and not the radio gives this article its essential character. Therefore, the subject article is properly classifiable under heading 3923, HTSUSA, which provides for articles for the conveyance or packing of goods, of plastics.


The submitted plastic cooler and radio is classifiable under subheading 3923.10.0000, HTSUSA, which provides for articles for the conveyance or packing of goods, of plastics, boxes, cases, crates, and similar articles. The rate of duty is three percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division