CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 953882 DFC
Peter Jay Baskin, Esq.
Sharretts, Paley, Carter & Blauvelt. P.C.
Sixty-seven Broad Street
New York, N.Y. 10004
RE: Boots, hiking; Athletic footwear; T.D. 92-32; Additional
U.S. Note 2 to Chapter 64
Dear Mr Baskin:
In a letter dated March 11, 1993, to the Regional
Commissioner of Customs in New York, on behalf of Hi-Tec Sports
USA, Inc., you inquired as to the tariff classification under the
Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of three
hiking boots produced in Korea. Your letter, together with the
samples and descriptive literature which were submitted for
examination, were forwarded to this office for a response.
The samples are designated as styles GT Max, GT Rugged and
the Yazoo. The GT Max consists of a nylon mesh upper covered
extensively with full grain nubuk overlays, a phylon midsole, and
an all-terrain carbon rubber outer sole. The footwear is an
over-the-ankle style, features stitched toe bumpers, and weighs
14.5 ounces in a men's size 8.
THe GT Rugged is comprised of a nylon upper that is covered
extensively with nubuk overlays, an EVA midsole, and a carbon
rubber, wrap-around outsole. The footwear is an over-the-ankle
style, features stitched toe bumpers, and weighs 13.5 ounces in a
men's size 8.
The Yazoo consists of a nylon mesh upper, which is more than
50 percent covered with suede overlays, an EVA midsole, and a
high traction carbon rubber outer sole, It is a "high-top" style
of footwear featuring thickly padded ankles, moisture wicking
lining, stitched toe bumpers, and trail stabilizers. It weighs
16 ounces in a men's size 8.
You claim that these hiking shoes are classifiable under
subheading 6404.11.20, HTSUS, as footwear with outer soles or
rubber, plastics, leather or composition leather and uppers of
textile materials, footwear with outer soles of rubber or
plastics, sports footwear, tennis shoes, basketball shoes, gym
shoes, training shoes and the like, having uppers of which over
50 percent of the external surface area (including any leather
accessories or reinforcements such as those mentioned in note
4(a) to this chapter) is leather. The applicable rate of duty
for this provision is 10.5% ad valorem.
Does the language of Additional U.S. Note 2 to Chapter 64,
HTSUS, expand the coverage of subheading 6404.11, HTSUS
Are the hiking boots considered "athletic footwear" for
purposes of classification under subheading 6404.11.20, HTUS?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
The term "tennis shoes, basketball shoes, gym shoes,
training shoes and the like" appearing in subheading 6404.11,
HTSUS, is defined by Additional U.S. Note 2 to Chapter 64, HTSUS,
which reads as follows:
2. For the purposes of this chapter, the term "tennis
shoes, basketball shoes, gym shoes, training shoes and
the like" covers athletic footwear other than sports
footwear (as defined in subheading note 1 above)
whether or not principally used for such athletic games
It is claimed that Customs erred in T.D. 92-32 by requiring
that the hiking/backpacking boots at issue therein be "like"
tennis shoes, basketball shoes, gym shoes, and training shoes.
The reason assigned for this error is that by inserting
Additional U.S. Note 2 into Chapter 64, HTSUS, Congress expressly
described what the phrase "tennis shoes, basketball shoes, gym
shoes, training shoes and the like should cover. Consequently,
an analysis of whether the hiking/backpacking boots were "like"
tennis shoes, basketball shoes, gym shoes and training shoes
should have been an irrelevant consideration.
You assert that "[i]t is a 'well-settled rule of statutory
construction that for the purpose of ascertaining the intention
of Congress, the entire context of the statute must be considered
and every effort made to give full force and effect to all
language contained therein.' . . . To say that a definition is
restricted by the terminology of the phrase it is defining is to
render the definition void, meaningless, and of no effect, for
the very purpose of inserting a definition into a statute is to
ensure that the defined phrase is interpreted in accordance with
the definition, regardless of what the terms in the phrase might
otherwise imply. . . ."
Additional Note 2 to Chapter 64, HTSUS, neither restricts
nor expands upon the terminology of subheading 6404.11, HTSUS.
The U.S. Note merely clarifies the distinction between sports
footwear and other athletic footwear. Further, a fair reading of
the note reveals that its purpose was to clarify that it was not
necessary for Customs to determine the "principal use" of each
style imported as "like" due presumably to the blurring of the
lines between "athletic" and casual wear in athletic shoes,
(e.g., "athleisure" shoes).
In T.D. 92-32 (16 Cust. Bull. 4), responding to the claim of
importers that the hiking/backing boot is classifiable as
athletic footwear, Customs stated at page 18 the following:
In this instance the hiking/backpacking boot, although
used in the sport of backpacking, fails to qualify as
athletic footwear within subheading 6404.11 because it
is not "like" tennis shoes, basketball shoes, gym
shoes, and training shoes. Specifically, hiking boots
are heavier than the listed exemplars of athletic
footwear. This slows the wearer's running speed
substantially. All the exemplars are used in sports
which require fast footwork or extensive running.
Additionally, the exemplars are not constructed so as
to protect the foot against rough and rocky terrain as
are hiking boots. For these reasons we conclude that
the hiking/backpacking boot is not classifiable under
subheading 6404.11, as claimed.
You also assert that the reasons stated above for not
considering hiking boots as athletic footwear are incorrect for
the following reasons:
1. The hiking shoes in issue are no heavier than for
example, the average pair of a corresponding size of
basketball shoes. In fact, the literature of the GT
Max and the GT Rugged specifically state that those
styles are "[l]ightweight shoe[s] designed with an
outsole ideal for mountain biking, short distance trail
running, or day hiking with lightweight pack."
2. Customs contended that all the exemplars were used in
sports requiring fast footwork or extensive running.
The sport of hiking requires fast footwork and/ or
running -- for example, to cross a hazardous path, to
leap across a gap or over a barrier, or to escape the
elements or potential danger. Further, the active
hiker/backpacker will incorporate sporadic jogging-
like running (frequently between one-quarter to one-
half mile intervals) into their day-long hikes.
3. If footwear had to be used in a sport requiring
extensive running or fast footwear, in order to fall
within the purview of "like" footwear under subheading
6404.11, HTSUS, then footwear such as aerobic shoes
would be excluded from that provision. However, the
sporting goods industry in the United States clearly
considered aerobic footwear and other footwear not
requiring extensive running (e.g., walking shoes) to
come within the footwear category known as athletic
4. The claim by Customs that the exemplars are not
constructed so as to protect the foot against rough and
rocky terrain is not correct. These shoes have
characteristics such as carbon rubber outsoles, lugs on
outer soles, EVA midsoles, heel counters, heel
stabilizers, nylon mesh/leather uppers, removable sock
liners, padded heel tabs, padded collars, padded
tongues, lateral stabilizer straps, double toe foxings
and adjustable width lacings which protect the foot
against rough and rocky terrain.
With respect to aerobic shoes, it should be noted those with
textile uppers and soles of rubber or plastics are classifiable
under 6404.11, HTSUS, as "athletic footwear." However, 99
percent of imported aerobic shoes have leather or plastic uppers
which require classification in heading 6402 or 6403, HTSUS,
where the "athletic " distinction does not appear. Contrary to
your assertion, aerobics, particularly "high-impact" aerobics
require "fast footwork" and "extensive running" action, albeit
normally in place. Due to the need for high skid resistance, for
protection of the sides of the foot during foot sliding on a hard
surface, and for protection from the jarring heel impact when
running in place or jumping, aerobic shoes are made like and look
like a hybrid of tennis shoes, basketball shoes and training
(jogging) shoes. We note that no "low impact" aerobic shoes are
sold. "Low-impactors" normally wear regular aerobic shoes
capable of "higher-impact" use or tennis or gym shoes. They
never wear any kind of hiking boot.
Taking the exemplars in subheading 6404.11, HTSUS, into
account and disregarding the treatment of aerobics, it is quite
obvious that the Hi-Tec Backpacking Series such as the "Yazoo,"
with, among other things, its distinct heel, its upper extending
way over the ankle, its very thick sole to protect against sharp
rocks, and its steel shank, obviously does not belong in
subheading 6404.11, HTSUS.
The General Terrain Series such as the GT Rugged and the GT
Max are more problematic. They are quite similar; the GT Max is
a little heavier and more "hikeish" than the GT Rugged. Due to
the studs, they are clearly different from the "hard surface"
athletics, i.e., tennis, basketball and gym shoes. However, they
are suitable for "short distance trail running." Therefore,
there are several similarities between these two and the subset
of jogging shoes which are appropriate for use on unpaved
Unlike the training shoes, these shoes have the following
1. a "heel" stabilizer which on the "in" side of the foot
extends past the mid point of the shoe;
2. stitched and cemented on, molded rubber heel and toe
3. outersoles which are considerably heavier and stiffer
(although substantially less so than the usual hiker)
and which have a quite different design and spacing for
the "studs;" and
4. Uppers which cover the ankle.
Based on the foregoing, it is our opinion that the above-
listed differences between the shoes in issue and the exemplars
listed in subheading 6404.11, HTSUS, prevents them from being
considered "like" those exemplars. Consequently, styles GT Max,
GT Rugged and Yazoo are classifiable under 6404.19, TSUS, which
provides for footwear with outer soles of rubber, plastics,
leather or composition leather and uppers of textile materials,
footwear with outer soles of rubber or plastics, other.
Inasmuch as you have stated that you are interested only in
the "athletic" issue, we have not gone beyond the six digit
classification. To provide an eight digit classification, we
would need additional information (e.g., whether the shoes have
The language of Additional U.S. Note 2 to Chaspter 64,
HTSUS, does not expand the coverage of subheading 6404.11, HTSUS.
The GT Max, GTR Rugged and the Yazoo are not considered
"athletic footwear" for purposes of classification under
subheading 6404.11.20, HTSUS.
The GT Max, GT Rugged and the Yazoo are classifiable udner
subheading 6404.19, HTSUS.
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division