CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 965939 GOB
Frederick L. Ikenson
Blank Rome LLP
900 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006
RE: Revocation of HQ 965584; Pipe Fitting Nuts
Dear Messrs. Ikenson and Hampel:
This letter is in reply to your letter of September 27, 2002, on behalf of Southland Metals, Inc., in which you request that we reconsider HQ 965584 dated September 24, 2002. In reviewing this matter we have taken into consideration the points raised in all of your submissions, as well as those stated in the telephone conference of December 4, 2002.
We have reviewed the classification in HQ 965584 and have determined that it is incorrect. This ruling sets forth the correct classification.
Pursuant to section 625(c), Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)), 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), notice of the proposed revocation of HQ 965584, as described below, was published in the Customs Bulletin on February 5, 2003.
Your comment is the only comment which we received. In your submission of March 7, 2003, you raise and discuss issues which were raised in your previous submissions. While we believe that some of the issues you have raised are legitimate and very relevant, we are unpersuaded of the correctness of your position. Please see the LAW AND ANALYSIS section for our discussion.
In HQ 965584, we classified certain pipe fitting nuts in subheading 7318.19.00, HTSUS, as: “Screws, nuts, bolts, coach screws, screw hooks, rivets, cotters, cotter pins, washers (including spring washers) and similar articles, of iron and steel: Threaded articles: Other.”
In HQ 965584, we stated as follows:
According to the information provided, the pipe fitting nuts may be imported in a finished condition or, what is termed rough castings requiring some finish machining or threading. The articles are available in several styles which denote the profile and location of the wrench flats on the pipe fitting nut body. Depending on the articles actual application, the article may be referred to as a meter nut, swivel nut, eclipse nut, union nut, regulator nut, or compression nut. The pipe fitting nuts are produced and imported as individual items with distinct part numbers. The schematics submitted for several of the types of nuts show that the pipe fitting nuts are made from material meeting the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard A-197. The schematics show that the threads of the pipe fitting nuts are manufactured to meet the American National Standards Institute/American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ANSI/ASME) standard B1.1. Each type of nut has a ‘shoulder’ or ‘flange’ inside the rim of the nut, interrupting the threads and forming a ‘stop’. This ‘stop’ is intended to catch an external ‘shoulder’ or ‘flange’ of another component with which
the pipe fitting nut is intended to be combined.
In your submission of February 22, 2002, you stated in pertinent part as follows:
Regardless of application, the subject nuts are produced and imported as individual items, each having a distinct part number. That is, e.g., a union nut is produced and imported without regard to the “head” and “tail” with which it ultimately may be used, a swivel nut similarly is produced and imported independent of the swivel with which it may be used, and a compression nut is produced an [sic] imported independent of the “nipple” with which it may be used.
What is the classification under the HTSUS of the subject pipe fitting nuts?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (“GRI’s”). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI’s may then be applied.
The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (“EN’s”) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. While neither legally binding nor dispositive, the EN’s provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. See T.D. 89-80.
The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:
7307 Tube or pipe fittings (for example, couplings, elbows, sleeves) of iron or steel:
* * * * * *
7318 Screws, nuts, bolts, coach screws, screw hooks, rivets, cotters, cotter pins, washers (including spring washers) and similar articles, of iron and steel:
* * * * * *
7325 Other cast articles of iron or steel:
7325.99.10 Of cast iron
EN 73.07 provides in pertinent part as follows:
This heading covers fittings or iron or steel, mainly used for connecting the bores of two tubes together, or for connecting a tube to some other apparatus, or for closing the tube aperture. This heading does not however cover articles used for installing pipes and tubes but which do not form an integral part of the bore, e.g., hangers, stays and similar supports which merely fix or support the tubes and pipes on walls, clamping or tightening bands or collars . . .
The connection is obtained:
- by screwing, when using cast iron or steel threaded fittings;
. . .
This heading therefore includes . . . unions . . .
This heading excludes:
. . .
(b) Bolts, nuts, screws, etc., suitable for use in the assembly of tube or pipe fittings (heading 73.18).
[All emphasis in original.]
EN 73.18 provides in pertinent part as follows:
Nuts are metal pieces designed to hold the corresponding bolts in place. They are usually tapped throughout but are sometimes blind. The heading includes wing nuts, butterfly nuts, etc. Lock nuts (usually thinner and castellated) are sometimes used with bolts. [Emphasis in original.]
EN 73.25 provides in pertinent part as follows:
This heading covers all cast articles of iron or steel, not elsewhere specified or included.
. . .
This heading does not cover castings which are products falling in other headings of the Nomenclature (e.g., recognisable parts of machinery or mechanical appliances) or unfinished castings which require further working but have the essential character of such finished products.
[All emphasis in original.]
Your primary claim is that the subject goods are classified in subheading 7318.16.00, HTSUS. Alternatively, you claim that the goods are classified in subheading 7325.99.10, HTSUS. Classification in heading 7307, HTSUS, has also been considered. Because heading 7325, HTSUS, covers all cast articles of iron or steel not elsewhere specified or included (see EN 73.25), the goods will be provided for in heading 7325, HTSUS, only if they are described in that heading and if they are not provided for in heading 7307 or heading 7318.
In HQ 965584 we classified the pipe fitting nuts in subheading 7318.19.00, HTSUS, based upon the finding that, “[u]nder GRI 2(a), the castings qualify as blanks having the essential character of other threaded articles of the type classifiable in subheading 7318.19.00, HTSUS.” We now believe that this classification is incorrect. In the consideration of HQ 965584, we gave too much emphasis to whether the pipe fitting nuts had the essential character of other threaded articles within the meaning of subheading 7318.19.00, HTSUS, and insufficient emphasis to the consideration of whether the pipe fitting nuts are goods described in heading 7318, HTSUS. As the analysis below indicates, we do not believe that the pipe fitting nuts are of the same class or kind as the goods enumerated in heading 7318, HTSUS.
The subject pipe fitting nuts are designed differently than common nuts. These pipe fitting nuts have an internal bearing surface ‘shoulder’ or ‘flange’ which would stop an article being threaded through it from emerging at the opposite end of the pipe fitting nut. This internal shoulder precludes the pipe fitting nut from being used with a bolt, screw or stud. The pipe fitting nut operates by placing a part which has an external shoulder inside the pipe fitting nut. The external shoulder of the internal part contacts the internal shoulder of the pipe fitting nut preventing the internal part from sliding all the way through the pipe fitting nut. A third component with external threads then goes over the internal part and screws into the pipe fitting nut which locks the internal and external shoulders, squeezing them together. Therefore, the clamping force of the pipe fitting nut is by the internal shoulder.
A common nut operates differently. The clamping force of the common nut is created by the outside face (external bearing surface) of the nut pressing against a washer or the surface of the article being assembled. The compression created by the face of the common nut holds the corresponding bolt, screw, or stud in place. The common nut performs its fastening function by holding the article in place by the compression which the exterior face creates with the assistance of the threaded bolt, screw, or stud. Therefore, the pipe fitting nut and the common nut have different design features, different intended usages, different industry groups, are marketed in different departments and have no commercial interchangability.
Accordingly, we find that the pipe fitting nuts are not described in heading 7318, HTSUS. It therefore follows that the pipe fitting nuts are not classified in subheading 7318.16.00, HTSUS, as claimed by you, or in subheading 7316.19.99, HTSUS, as we determined in HQ 965584.Heading 7307
With respect to classification of the goods in heading 7307, HTSUS, we find that certain of the language of EN 73.07 is critical to this issue. That language provides that heading 7307, HTSUS, “. . . covers fittings of iron or steel, mainly used for connecting the bores of two tubes together . . .” [Emphasis supplied.] We believe that the important inquiry is whether the subject pipe fitting nuts connect the bores of two tubes together. Documentation in the file, including illustrations, indicates that the pipe fitting nuts serve to connect other pipe fitting components, e.g., in the case of union nuts, the nuts serve to connect the head and the tail components which are in turn connected to the two pipes. The documentation of record leads us to conclude that the subject pipe fitting nuts are used to connect the bores of two tubes together. Therefore, we find that the subject pipe fitting nuts are within the scope of the description provided in EN 73.07, above. Accordingly, we find that the subject pipe fitting nuts are provided for in heading 7307, HTSUS. We find that they are classified in subheading 7307.19.90, HTSUS, as: “Tube or pipe fittings (for example, couplings, elbows, sleeves) of iron or steel: Cast fittings: Other: Other.”
As you have consistently noted, heading 7307, HTSUS, does not include “parts” of pipe fittings. It is our determination in the analysis above that the subject pipe fitting nuts are provided for in heading 7307, HTSUS, as pipe fittings. We do not believe, and we do not find, that the subject pipe fitting nuts are “parts” of pipe fittings.
Based upon our determination that the pipe fitting nuts are classified in subheading 7307.19.90, HTSUS, they are not described or classified in heading 7325, HTSUS.
The pipe fitting nuts are classified in subheading 7307.19.90, HTSUS, as: “Tube or pipe fittings (for example, couplings, elbows, sleeves) of iron or steel: Cast fittings: Other: Other.”
EFFECT ON OTHER RULINGS:
HQ 965584 is revoked. In accordance with 19 U.S.C. 1625(c), this ruling will become effective 60 days after publication in the Customs Bulletin.
Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial Rulings Division