CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 089869 MBR

Mr. Michael A. Hertzberg
Howrey & Simon
1730 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006-4793

RE: Hitachi Metals; Ferrite Cores; Magnetic Recording Heads; Parts of Automatic Data Processing Tape and Disk Drives; Ceramic Articles; Electrical Machines and Apparatus n.s.p.f.

Dear Mr. Hertzberg:

This is in reply to your letter of March 6, 1991, and supplemental submission of April 24, 1991, requesting classification of ferrite cores for magnetic recording heads, on behalf of Hitachi Metals, Ltd., and Hitachi Metals America, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).


The subject merchandise is a small, rectangular or square article of ferrite, engineered to exacting tolerances for use in the assembly of magnetic heads for products such as computer disks and tape drives, videocassette recorders, and tape recorders. A large majority of these ferrite cores, sold by Hitachi Metals America (HML), are used to assemble magnetic heads for computer disk and tape drives.

Ferrites are ceramic materials which exhibit a high degree of magnetic sensitivity. Ferrite material is manufactured by combining certain metallic oxides with a binding agent under high temperature and pressure. The ferrite material used by HML to produce the subject cores consists primarily of three oxides: manganese oxide (MnO), zinc oxide (ZnO), and iron oxide (Fe-2 O- 3).


Because of their high electrical resistivity and magnetic permeability, magnetically soft ferrites are particularly well suited for the storage, transmission, or reception of magnetic energy. The resistivity of ferrite material also allows those materials to be used in the conversion of electric energy into magnetic energy and vice versa via induction. Because of these capabilities, ferrite material is commonly used in computer memories and electrical components.

The instant ferrite core production begins with the manufacture of the base ferrite material. This base material may be in the form of a disc, block, or plate. The base material is machined into "C" and "I" shaped bars and then coated ("sputtered") with a fine layer of metallic material and glass. The two sputtered bars are joined and bonded in glass so that non-magnetically permeable gaps are created at the contact points between the two bars. The bonded ferrite bar is machined and sliced to form the ferrite cores exported by HML.


What is the classification of ferrite cores for magnetic recording heads, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA)?


The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) to the HTSUSA govern the classification of goods in the tariff schedule. GRI 1 states, in pertinent part:

...classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes...

You argue that: "[b]ecause composite cores rely on the principles of induction to convert energy from one form to another, and employ static elements to accomplish that objective, they are static converters." Therefore, you argue that the ferrite cores are classifiable in heading 8504, HTSUSA, which provides for: "[e]lectrical transformers, static converters (for example, rectifiers) and inductors; parts thereof."

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) to heading 8504, HTSUSA, state:


The apparatus of this group are used to convert electrical energy in order to adapt it for further use. They incorporate converting elements (e.g., valves) of


different types. They may also incorporate various auxiliary devices (e.g., transformers, induction coils, resistors, command regulators, etc.). Their operation is based on the principle that the converting elements act alternatively as conductors and non-conductors.

The fact that these apparatus often incorporate auxiliary circuits to regulate the voltage of the emerging current does not affect their classification in this group, nor does the fact that they are sometimes referred to as voltage or current regulators.

This group includes:

(A) Rectifiers by which alternating current (single or polyphase) is converted to direct current, generally accompanied by a voltage change.

(B) Inverters by which direct current is converted to alternating current.

(C) Alternating current converters and cycle converters by which alternating current (single or polyphase) is converted to a different frequency or voltage.

(D) Direct current converters by which direct current is converted to a different voltage.

However, the instant ferrite cores do not operate on any of these principles. Therefore, we are not persuaded that the instant merchandise is properly classifiable in heading 8504, HTSUSA.

Furthermore, you argue that: "HTS 8504.90.00 is a use provision for ferrites used principally as parts for electrical transformers, static converters, and inductors" and that "[t]he ferrite cores exported by HML are used principally (in fact exclusively) as parts of wound ferrite composite sliders, a form of static converter."

However, use is not a criterion in determining whether merchandise is classifiable under an eo nomine designation, where the provision is clear and unambiguous, without any suggestion that the element of use should influence the classification of merchandise thereunder. F.W. Myers & Co., Inc. v. United States, 24 Cust. Ct. 178, C.D. 1228 (1950); Gold-Silver & Co. v. United States, 36 Cust. Ct. 51, C.D. 1753 (1956). See A Manual of Customs Law, Ruth F. Sturm (1974).


You also argue that, prior to the implementation of the HTSUSA, Customs classified the subject ferrite cores under 535.12, TSUS, and that heading 8504.90.00, HTSUSA, is the successor provision to 535.12, TSUS. However, item 535.12, TSUS, provides for: "[c]eramic magnets, ceramic electrical insulators whether or not in part of metal, and other ceramic electrical ware, including ferroelectric and piezoelectric ceramic elements: [f]errites: [c]eramic permanent magnets."

The House Conf. Rep. No. 100-576 [page 549] states: "[i]n light of the significant number and nature of changes in nomenclature from the TSUS to the HTS, decisions by the Customs Service and the courts interpreting nomenclature under the TSUS are not to be deemed dispositive in interpreting the HTS. Nevertheless, on a case-by-case basis prior decisions should be considered instructive in interpreting the HTS, particularly where the nomenclature previously interpreted in those decisions remains unchanged and no dissimilar interpretation is required by the text of the HTS."

We do not find that the language in subheading 8504.90.00, HTSUSA, is in any way similar to that of item 535.12, TSUS. Therefore, decisions rendered under the TSUS cannot even be considered instructive, in the instant case.

Similar merchandise has been addressed by Customs under the HTSUSA in HQ 082097, dated March 14, 1989. In that case, the magnetic recording heads (which were also used to read and write data on computer disks), were found to be properly classifiable under subheading 8473.30.40, HTSUSA, which provides for: "[p]arts and accessories (other than covers, carrying cases and the like) suitable for use solely or principally with the machines of headings 8469 to 8472: [p]arts and accessories of the machines of heading 8471: [n]ot incorporating a cathode ray tube."

The Legal Notes to chapter 84, HTSUSA, state:

1. This chapter does not cover:

(b) Appliances or machinery (for example, pumps) or parts thereof, of ceramic material (chapter 69)

In HQ 082097 it was determined that the ferrite magnetic head had lost the character of ceramic articles. However, the magnetic recording head in HQ 082097 also contained the "slider unit" which was comprised of titanium carbide. The instant merchandise is assembled with the composite slider housing after importation. Therefore, it is Customs position that the instant merchandise has not lost the character of a ceramic article, and is thereby excluded from classification in subheading 8473.30.40, HTSUSA, by chapter 84 Legal Note 1(b). -5-

The ferrite cores are also prima facie classifiable under the following subheadings:

8543.80.90 Electrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter: Other machines and apparatus: Other."

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

6914.90.00 Other ceramic articles: Other

A Manual of Customs Law, Ruth F. Sturm (1974), p. 249, states:

A "not specifically provided for" clause in a use provision excludes therefrom articles enumerated elsewhere by descriptive or eo nomine designation, provided the competing provision is more than an unlimited general description of the merchandise. It must specifically name and describe the goods. United States v. Lansen-Naeve Corp., 44 CCPA 31, C.A.D. 632 (1957) and cases cited.

It is Customs position that subheading 6914.90.00, HTSUSA, which provides for "Other ceramic articles: Other," is an unlimited general description of the merchandise that does not name and describe the goods specifically. Therefore, we find that subheading 8543.80.90, HTSUSA, is more specific.


The Hitachi Metals Ltd. and Hitachi Metals America ferrite cores for magnetic recording heads are classifiable under subheading 8543.80.90, HTSUSA, which provides for: "[e]lectrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter: [o]ther machines and apparatus: [o]ther." The rate of duty is 3.9% ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division