CLA-2:CO:R:C:G 083602 SR

Mr. Peter J. Fitch
Fitch, King, and Caffentzis
116 John Street
New York, New York 10048

RE: Classification of Clarino imitation leather material

Dear Mr. Fitch:

This is in response to your letter dated January 4, 1989, requesting the tariff classification of Clarino imitation leather under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). Samples were submitted.


The merchandise at issue is an imitation leather, trade named Clarino, and assumed to be a product of Japan. It is made of an extruded bicomponent web of man-made fibers which are carded into a loose mat. The fibers are of staple length and not filaments. This carded web is lapped to build up a certain thickness then needled to make a more compact web. The web is impregnated with a polyurethane emulsion which further bonds the web. This polyurethane emulsion is analogous to a coagulation coating, in that the solvent in which the polyurethane particles are suspended is removed leaving a deposit of the polyurethane particles (coagulated) permeating the web. The web is then introduced into a solution which dissolves out one of the polymers of the bicomponent fiber. Because one of the polymers is dissolved out after coagulation, it seems that the polyurethane does not completely encapsulate all the fibers. The small voids created by the solution removal do not cause the material to become cellular plastic.

The underside of the samples are very fibrous in nature, which is what is desired to simulate leather. Whether or not the fibers are embedded with polyurethane should be determined in the same way as visibility of coatings, whether or not the plastic is visible and substantial. In this case the plastic is not visible or substantial.

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After the base material is complete it is coated with the appropriate finish to give the appearance of patent leather, plain leather, grained leather, etc. The surface layer consists of a deposit of polyurethane particles covered by several thin finishing layers.


Whether the merchandise at issue is classifiable under chapter 56.


The importer claims that the merchandise is not classifiable in chapter 56, HTSUSA, because of some exceptions in the notes to the chapter. Note 1 to chapter 56, HTSUSA, states "This chapter does not cover: (a) Wadding, felt or nonwovens, impregnated, coated or covered with substances or preparations (for example, perfumes or cosmetics of chapter 33, soaps or detergents of heading 3401, polishes, creams or similar preparations of heading 3405, fabric softeners of heading 3809) where the textile material is present merely as a carrying medium."

Note 3(c) to chapter 56, HTSUSA, states that headings 5602 and 5603 do not cover plates, sheets or strip of cellular rubber combined with felt or nonwovens, where the textile material is present merely for reinforcing purposes (chapter 39 or 40).

With respect to the merchandise at issue, the textile material is beyond mere support, it provides the structure of the item and it provides the desired fibrous leather-like structure. The surface layer of the merchandise consists of a deposit of polyurethane particles covered by several thin finishing layers. This top layer is a coating of plastic on the nonwoven textile. The nonwoven is coated, not covered, with a sheet of plastic.


The merchandise at issue, Clarino, is classifiable under subheading 5603.00.9020, HTSUSA, as impregnated, coated or covered nonwovens. It is dutiable at a rate of 12.5 percent ad valorem under the general column, and subject to textile restraints under category 223.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the

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restraint (quota/visa) categories, you should contact your local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durants Director
Commercial Rulings Division