CLA-2 R:I 957727 ch
Peter J. Gartland
Donovan, Leisure, Newton & Irvine
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, New York 10112
Re: Tariff classification of a CPU board for a microwave oven.
Dear Mr. Gartland:
This is in response to your letter, dated March 15, 1995, requesting the tariff
classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) of a
Central Processing Unit (CPU) board for a microwave oven.
The CPU board (Part No. DPWBFB244WRU0) consists of a printed circuit board
on which are assembled diodes, capacitors, transistors, integrated circuits, relays,
electrical connectors, a varistor which functions as a surge suppressor, and other
components. After importation, the CPU board is attached to a flexible plastic panel
with circuits, numbered pads and a ribbon connector. The completed unit controls the
cooking time and power level of a microwave oven (Model No. R-5A86) with a voltage
not exceeding 1,000 volts.
What is the proper tariff classification for the CPU board?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
The competing provisions are subheading 8537.10, which provides in part for
boards, panels (including numerical control panels) and other bases, equipped with two
or more apparatus of heading 8535 or 8536, for electric control or the distribution of
electricity, for a voltage not exceeding 1,000 volts; subheading 8538.10, which
provides for certain parts suitable for use solely or principally with the apparatus of
heading 8537; and subheading 8516.90, encompassing parts for microwave ovens.
By its terms, heading 8537 captures, with exceptions not relevant here:
1. Boards, panels and other bases;
2. Equipped with two or more apparatus of heading 8535 or 8536;
3. For electric control or the distribution of electricity.
The instant CPU board contains apparatus which are mounted on a board or a base. It
has been equipped with relays, connectors, resistances and the varistor, which are
apparatus provided for in heading 8536. See Explanatory Note to heading 8536 of the
Harmonized System at page 1390. The unit is clearly designed for electric control as it
regulates the cooking time and power level of a microwave oven. However, it is not
capable of performing these functions as it is imported without the numbered touch
pads and the ribbon connector.
General Rule of Interpretation 2(a) states in pertinent part that:
Any reference in a heading to an article shall be taken to include a reference to
that article incomplete or unfinished, provided that, as entered, the incomplete or
unfinished article has the essential character of the complete or finished article.
In this instance, the unit is comprised of a base equipped with several apparatus of
heading 8536 and is identifiable as a board performing the functions identified in
heading 8537. As a result, it possesses the essential characteristics of a finished
control board. Therefore, we conclude that the CPU board is classifiable in heading
Section XVI, Note 2, states in pertinent part that:
[P]arts of machines (not being parts of the articles of heading 8484, 8544, 8545,
8546 or 8547) are to be classified according to the following rules:
(a) Parts which are goods included in any of the headings of chapters 84 and
85 (other than headings 8485 and 8548) are in all cases to be classified
in their respective headings;
(b) Other parts, if suitable for use solely or principally with a particular kind of
machine, or with a number of machines of the same heading (including a
machine of heading 8479 or 8543) are to be classified with the machines
of that kind. However, parts which are equally suitable for use principally
with the goods of headings 8517 and 8525 to 8528 are to be classified in
Thus, goods which are described by any of the headings of chapters 84 and 85 (other
than headings 8485 and 8548), whether finished or unfinished, are classified in their
respective headings and are not classified with the goods for which they are intended.
As the CPU board is classifiable in heading 8537, as a matter of law it cannot be
classified in subheading 8516.90 as a part of a microwave oven.
You have asked us to address the relevance of certain provisions of Annex 401
of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and its legal notes to the
classification of these goods under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United
States. Specifically, in the Annex 401 rules of origin the NAFTA parties created tariff
item 8516.90.45 which provides for printed circuit assemblies for microwave ovens.
Chapter 85, Note 1, Annex 401, defines the expression "printed circuit assemblies." In
addition, other provisions for printed circuit assemblies have been added to Chapter
Pursuant to Public Law 100-413, the United States acceded to the Harmonized
system convention. As a contracting party to the convention the United States has
agreed to apply without change the text of the headings, subheadings, legal notes and
General Rules of Interpretation. Contracting Parties may create further subdivisions for
tariff and other purposes. Annex 401 of the NAFTA represents an instance in which
the NAFTA Parties created a number of tariff provisions for the purpose of applying
NAFTA rules of origin to goods imported into the NAFTA territories.
For tariff classification purposes, however, classification is governed by the
General Rules of Interpretation to the Harmonized System which requires a strict
adherence to the hierarchical structure of the HS. Accordingly, the scope of the four
and six digit provisions must be decided as a matter of law. Only thereafter may the
terms of an eight digit provision be considered. Stated differently, a subdivision of the
international nomenclature cannot expand or contract the scope of a four-digit heading
or six-digit subheading.
In addition, the legal notes to Annex 401 of the NAFTA are extrinsic to the
classification of merchandise. Their relevance is to illuminate the provisions of the
Annex 401 rules. The provisions of Annex 401 have no bearing on the classification of
goods. As stated above, in this instance the merchandise is excluded from heading
8516 as a matter of law. Accordingly, there is no basis upon which to consider the
terms of item 8516.90.45.
The subject merchandise is classifiable under subheading 8537.10.9060,
HTSUS, which provides for boards, panels (including numerical control panels),
consoles, desks, cabinets and other bases, equipped with two or more apparatus of
heading 8535 or 8536, for electric control of the distribution of electricity, including
those incorporating instruments or apparatus of chapter 90, other than switching
apparatus of heading 8517: for a voltage not exceeding 1,000 V: other, other:
programmable controllers. The applicable rate of duty is 4.8 percent ad valorem.
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division