CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 952573 CC

Harry G. Kelly, Esq.
Givens and Kelly
950 Echo Lane
Suite 360
Houston, TX 77024-2788

RE: Reconsideration and Revocation of HRL 950919; classification of a woven polypropylene bag

Dear Mr. Kelly:

This letter is in response to your request, on behalf of Mitsui Plastics, Inc., for reconsideration of Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 950919, which concerned the classification of a woven polypropylene bag. A sample was available for examination. In HRL 950919, dated April 8, 1992, we ruled that the subject merchandise is classified in Heading 6305 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), which provides for sacks and bags, of a kind used for the packing of goods. We have reviewed that ruling and have found it to be in error. The correct classification follows.

Pursuant to section 625, Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625), as amended by section 623 of Title VI (Customs Modernization) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057, 2186 (1993) (hereinafter section 625), notice of the proposed revocation was published on March 16, 1994, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 28, Number 11.


You contend that the correct classification for this merchandise is in Heading 4602, HTSUSA, which provides for basketwork, wickerwork and other articles, made directly to shape from plaiting materials or made up from articles of Heading 4601. The article in question is a sack or bag manufactured in the Republic of Korea. The bag is made from woven polypropylene strip fabric that is coated on one side with plastics. The individual warp and weft strips from which the bag is woven are 5.6 mm wide; however, the weft strips are compressed due to crumbling and folding in the weaving process with the result that approximately 70 percent of the weft strips appear to measure less than 5 mm in width. The actual width of the warp and weft strips nevertheless remains 5.6 mm at all times. The finished bag is 33 inches long, 15+ inches wide, and is open at one end. A cotton filler cord is used to sew the bottom closure. The bag is used to transport grain, plastic granules and similar products.

According to your submissions, the weight of the components of the bag is the following:

Warp strip, over 5 mm..........................36.50 gm Weft strip, over 5 mm..........................10.95 gm Weft strip, not over 5 mm......................25.55 gm Polypropylene coating..........................37.00 gm Polypropylene adhesive..........................3.00 gm Bottom sewing thread............................0.70 gm Cotton filler cord..............................0.66 gm Total.........................................114.36 gm


Whether the merchandise at issue is classifiable in Heading 3923, HTSUSA, Heading 4602, HTSUSA, or Heading 6305, HTSUSA?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.

There are three relevant headings for classification of the merchandise at issue: Heading 4602, Heading 6305, and Heading 3923, HTSUSA.

Note 2(ij) to Chapter 39, HTSUSA, specifically precludes plaits, wickerwork or other articles of Chapter 46 from coverage by Chapter 39. Therefore if the merchandise at issue is considered made of plaits, it is excluded from classification as an article of plastics of Chapter 39. Note 1(h) to Section XI, HTSUSA, states that Section XI does not cover woven, knitted or crocheted fabrics, felt or nonwovens, impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with plastics, or articles thereof, of chapter 39. In HRL 950919 we stated the following concerning whether the merchandise at issue is classifiable as an article of plastics:

Such fabrics must be coated on both sides with a plastics coating that is visible to the naked eye. The fabric used to make the article in question is coated on only one side with a plastic coating that cannot be seen by the naked eye. Consequently, it is not excluded from Section XI, by virtue of Note 1(h).

If considered made of textile material, therefore, this merchandise is not excluded from Section XI by the plastics application. Consequently the merchandise at issue is not classifiable in Chapter 39.

Note 1(g) to Section XI, provides that Section XI does not cover the following:

Monofilament of which any cross-sectional dimension exceeds 1 mm or strip or the like (for example, artificial straw) of an apparent width exceeding 5 mm, of plastics (chapter 39), or plaits or fabrics or other basketware or wickerwork of such monofilament or strip (chapter 46).

Note 1 to Chapter 46, HTSUSA, provides the following:

In this chapter the expression "plaiting materials" means materials in a state or form suitable for plaiting, interlacing or similar processes; it includes ... monofilament and strip and the like of plastics ... but not ... monofilament and strip and the like of chapter 54.

Subnote (ii) to Chapter 46 of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, Explanatory Notes, the official interpretation of the nomenclature at the international level, at page 651, states that the following is not considered plaiting materials of Chapter 46:

Monofilament of which no cross-sectional dimension exceeds 1 mm, or strip or flattened tubes (including strip and flattened tubes folded along the length), whether or not compressed or twisted (artificial straw and the like), of man-made textile materials, provided that the apparent width (i.e., in the folded, flattened, compressed or twisted state) does not exceed 5 mm (Section XI).

Thus in order for the merchandise at issue to be classifiable in Heading 4602, it must be made of strip exceeding 5 millimeters in width. If it is made of strip under 5 millimeters in width, it is classifiable in Section XI.

In HRL 950919 we ruled that the bags at issue were classified in Heading 6305. We stated that due to the twisting and folding of the strips in the weft, EN 5404(2)(iii) at page 754 was applicable, which states that if the actual or apparent width of strip is not uniform, classification is determined with regard to average width. Based on this Explanatory Note and a Customs laboratory report, we found that the average width of the weft strips was 4.1 millimeters. We ruled that "weighting the warp and the weft strips by the number of single strips per five centimeters (since the former are more numerous), yields an average overall width of the strips comprising the bag of 4.9 mm." Therefore we concluded that the bag was classifiable as an article of textile.

Although EN 5404(2)(iii) applies to the individual strips of this bag, this note is not applicable for purposes of determining an average overall width for the entire bag. The bag at issue is made of strips of two different widths for classification purposes. The strips of the warp, along with 30 percent of the strips of the weft, are greater than 5 millimeters in width, making the bag, prima facie, classifiable as plaiting in Heading 4602. 70 percent of the strips of the weft are less than 5 millimeters in width, making the bag, prima facie, classifiable as an article of textile in Section XI in Heading 6305, which provides for sacks and bags, of a kind used for the packing of goods. Consequently, classification cannot be effected by GRI 1, and the other GRI's must be applied.

GRI 3 provides for the classification of goods when, by application of GRI 2(b) or for any other reason, goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings. GRI 3(b) provides that mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character.

According to the Explanatory Notes, at page 4, 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.

For the merchandise at issue, the weight of the plaiting material far exceeds that of the textile material. In addition, the plaiting material covers much more of the surface area than the textile material does. Consequently, we find that the essential character of the bag is imparted by the plaiting strips in application of GRI 3(b). The bag, therefore, is classified in Heading 4602, HTSUSA.

In your letter of April 4, 1994, you state that the "unnecessary" application of GRI 3(b) will result in inconsistent tariff classifications for polypropylene bags. We have stated above the legal basis for applying GRI 3(b) to the subject merchandise. In addition, in those instances when it is not clear which component of a polypropylene bag provides the essential character, we will, as required, apply GRI 3(c).


The merchandise at issue is classified under subheading 4602.90.0000, HTSUSA, which provides for basketwork, wickerwork and other articles, made directly to shape from plaiting materials or made up from articles of Heading 4601, other. The rate of duty is 5.3 percent ad valorem.

HRL 950919, dated April 8, 1992, is hereby revoked.

In accordance with section 625, this ruling will become effective 60 days from its publication in the Customs Bulletin. Publication of rulings or decisions pursuant to section 625 does not constitute a change of practice or position in accordance with section 177.10(c)(1), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 177.10(c)(1)).


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division