CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 080483 jlj
Area Director of Customs
6 World Trade Center
New York, New York 10048-0945
RE: Internal Advice Request No. 56/86, Concerning the
Classification of Seagrass Doormats
This request for internal advice was initiated by Rode
and Qualey, 295 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10017, on
behalf of their client Import Specialists Inc.
The merchandise at issue is seagrass doormats in three
different shapes: oval, oblong and half round. This
merchandise was classified by the New York Seaport import
specialist under the provision for floor coverings not
specially provided for, of textile materials, other, other,
other, other, in item 361.70, Tariff Schedules of the United
The inquirer contends that this merchandise is classified
under the provision for floor coverings of unspun fibrous
vegetable materials, other, in item 222.57, TSUS.
Alternatively, the inquirer argues that, if the doormats are
of textile materials, they are composed of materials similar
to cords and are classified under the provision for floor
coverings composed of braids, cords, fabric strips and similar
materials in continuous lengths, sewn or otherwise bound
together, but not woven, of textile materials, other, other,
in chief weight of vegetable fibers, except cotton, in item
What is the correct classification of the instant
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LAW AND ANALYSIS:
The inquirer argues that the seagrass doormats are
classified as floor coverings of unspun fibrous vegetable
materials in item 222.57, TSUS. He cites Customs Headquarters
Ruling Letter (HRL) 055440 of June 7, 1979 (Internal Advice
No. 128/78) and Barham v. United States, 11 Ct. Cust. Appls.
536, T.D. 39679 (1923) in support of his position.
Schedule 3, Headnote 1(i), TSUS, states:
1. This schedule does not cover --
(1) articles of unspun fibrous vegetable materials
(see Part 2B of Schedule 2)....
In order to understand what is excluded from Schedule 3
TSUS, we must look to the definition of unspun fibrous
vegetable materials found in Schedule 2, Part 2, Subpart B,
Headnote 2(d), TSUS:
2. For the purposes of the tariff schedules --
* * * *
(d) the term "unspun fibrous vegetable materials"
means bamboo, rattan, willow, chip, straw, palm leaf,
grass, seagrass, and similar fibrous vegetable
substances which have not been spun.
Schedule 3, Headnote 2(a)(i), TSUS, states:
2. For the purposes of the tariff schedules--
(a) the term "textile materials" means--
(i) the fibers (cotton, other vegetable
fibers, wool and hair, silk, and man-made
fibers) provided for in Part 1 of this
Schedule 3, Part 1, Subpart B, Headnote 1(a), TSUS,
defines vegetable fiber as follows:
1. For the purposes of the tariff schedules--
(a) the term "vegetable fiber" means vegetable
fiber which can be spun....
Reading the headnotes above, it is apparent that the
difference between seagrass classified as an unspun fibrous
vegetable material in Schedule 2, TSUS, and seagrass
classified as a textile vegetable fiber in Schedule 3, TSUS,
is whether the seagrass can be spun. The Customs Court
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arrived at the same conclusion in B.A. McKenzie & Co., Inc. v.
United States, 63 Cust. Ct. 110 (1969), when it said that
"...for the purposes of the tariff schedule, a vegetable fiber
is one which is spinnable but not necessarily spun." This
principle was repeated in Continental Importing Co. v. United
States, 63 Cust. Ct. 341 (1969), when the court observed:
A vegetable fiber is one that can be
spun.... Had Congress intended the
distinction claimed by plaintiff, it
would have defined vegetable fiber as
one that has been spun. Not having
done so, it seems clear that Congress
meant to include as a textile material
any vegetable fiber provided for in
Schedule 3, Part 1, which can be spun,
whether or not it actually has been
Each of the submitted samples is made from 2-ply yarns or
cords of twisted seagrass fibers. The fibers are not uniform
in width and are in various lengths. The twisting action
forms the fibers into the yarns or cords comprising the mats.
When the yarns or cords are untwisted, the fibers revert back
to being individual fibrous lengths of seagrass.
Spun yarns are defined as being "composed of relatively
short lengths of fiber twisted or spun to hold them together."
Fabric Science, J.J. Pizzuto (1974, Fairchild Publications,
Inc.), at page 65. Accordingly, we conclude that the sample
mats consist of seagrass fibers which have been spun.
Inasmuch as the seagrass in the instant doormats has been
spun, it cannot be classified as an unspun fibrous vegetable
material in Schedule 2, TSUS.
Alternatively, the inquirer argues that the doormats are
classified under the provision for floor coverings composed of
braids, cords, fabric strips and similar materials in
continuous lengths, sewn or otherwise bound together but not
woven, of textile materials, in item 361.23, TSUS.
Because the mats are made of vegetable fibers which have
been twisted into a yarn and plied into cordage prior to being
made into mats, we find that the instant doormats are made of
cordage and are classified in item 361.23, TSUS. We note that
item 361.70, TSUS, falls under the superior heading "Floor
coverings not specially provided for" and is a basket
provision. Inasmuch as the mats are specially provided for in
item 361.23, TSUS, item 361.70, TSUS, would not apply.
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The instant seagrass doormats are classified under the
provision for floor coverings composed of cords, but not
woven, of textile materials, in item 361.23, TSUS. You should
inform the inquirer of this ruling.
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division
6cc: A.D., NY Seaport (NIS-349 and NIS-29)
1cc: John Durant
CO:R:C:G:JLJOHNSON:lw 6/8/88 7/13/88 7/14/88 7/15/88