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
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-
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)?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
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:
(II) ELECTRICAL STATIC CONVERTERS
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
(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,
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
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).
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
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
6914.90.00 Other ceramic articles: Other
A Manual of Customs Law, Ruth F. Sturm (1974), p. 249,
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