CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 084645 DFC

Peter J. Fitch, Esq
Fitch, King and Caffentzis
Attorneys and Counsellors at Law
116 John Street
New York, N.Y. 10038

RE: Tariff classification of Clarino man-made leather

Dear Mr. Fitch:

In your letters dated May 15, 1989, and April 20, 1990, you asked for a reconsideration of the result reached in Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 083602 SR dated April 10, 1989. Specifically, you claim that the subject ruling contained errors of fact and law which resulted in an erroneous classification of the merchandise in issue.


The Clarino man-made leather is made of an extruded bicomponent web of man-made fibers carded into a loose mat. The fibers are of staple length and not filaments. The carded web is lapped to build up a certain thickness then needled to make a more compact web. The web is impregnated with a polyurethane emulsion which further bonds the web. This polyurethane emulsion is analogous to a coagulation coating, in that the solvent in which the polyurethane particles are suspended is removed leaving a deposit of the polyurethane particles (coagulated) permeating the web. The web is then introduced into a solution which dissolves out one of the polymers of the bicomponent fiber.


In HRL 083602 this office concluded that Clarino man-made leather is classifiable under subheading 5603.00.90, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUSA), as impregnated, coated or covered nonwovens.


Is the top layer of the sample a cellular plastic for tariff purposes?

Is the nonwoven textile completely embedded in plastics?

Is the textile component present in the article for merely reinforcing purposes?


You claim that the merchandise is classifiable as other plates, sheets, film, foil and strip, of plastics, cellular, of polyurethanes, combined with textile materials, products with textile components in which man-made fibers predominate by weight over any other single textile under subheading 3921.13.1100, HTSUSA, if over 70 percent by weight of plastics or under 3921.13.1500, HTSUSA, if not over 70 percent by weight of plastics.

You state that "polyurethane does not become a cellular plastic by virtue of any of the operations in the manufacturing process, but is a cellular plastic per se. (See subheading 3921.13)." We have been informed by our chemists that polyurethane is not a cellular plastic per se. However, they have informed us that the outer layer of the sample is a cellular plastic.

Legal Note 3 to Chapter 56, HTSUSA, provides in pertinent part as follows:

Headings 5602 and 5603 cover respectively felt and nonwovens, impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with plastics or rubber whatever the nature of those materials (compact or cellular).


Headings 5602 and 5603 do not, however, cover

(b) Nonwovens, either completely embedded in plastics or rubber, or entirely coated or covered on both sides with such materials, provided that such coating or covering can be seen with the naked eye with no account being taken of any resulting change of color (chapter 39 or 40); or

(c) plates, sheets or strips of cellular plastics or cellular rubber combined with felt or nonwovens, where the textile material is present merely for reinforcing purposes (chapter 39 or 40).

You contend that plastic completely embeds the textile thus negating classification under Chapter 56 by virtue of Note 3(b) to that Chapter. We do not agree. The textile is not completely embedded by plastic because the plastic is apparent on one side while the other side is of fibrous textile material.

With respect to your claim that the textile is present merely for reinforcing purposes, we draw your attention to the Brochure entitled "The Science Leather Clarino" which points up the nonwoven character of your product. At page 6 of the publication it states in pertinent part as follows:

Though CLARINO is available in many colors and textures, its basic structure consisting of a surface component and a non-woven backing component is the same for all. The surface component consists of a fine deposit of microscopic polyurethane particles covered by several thin finishing layers. The backing component is made up of a blend of special synthetic fibers and polyurethane of ideally porous structure. These components cannot be separated into layers and form a continuous integrated whole decreasing in density from top to bottom--similar to natural leather, and of prime importance for CLARINO's vapor permeability and other features. . . .


Your attention is also invited to a portion of an article entitled "THE SCIENCE OF CLARINO" which reads as follows:

The collagen fibers that make up the fiber bundles of natural leather are extremely fine, measuring no more than 0.001-0.01 denier. The secret of Clarino's development is the creation of special synthetic fibers that match the fiber bundles of natural leather in lightness, strength and size.

Clarino's superfine fibers are made by combining two different types of soluble polymers. The combination of these two polymers resemble an ocean in which islands are floating. A solvent is then used to dissolve one of the two substances, leaving a network of superfine micro fibers. These fibers are then combined with a special type of polyurethane to produce the basic substance of Clarino. This corresponds to the substrate layer of natural leather. The surface layer of natural leather is reproduced in a similar fashion through the use of special resins.

In view of the foregoing, it remains our opinion that the textile component contributes to the structure of the material rather than being merely reinforcement.


The sample Clarino man-made leather is classifiable under subheading 5603.00.90, HTSUSA, as nonwovens, whether or not impregnated, coated, covered or laminated, other, other, and dutiable at the rate of 12.5 percent ad valorem. The applicable textile category is 223.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories, you should contact your local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


The designated textile and apparel category may be subdivided into parts. If so, visa and quota requirements applicable to the subject merchandise may be affected. Since part categories are the result of international bilateral agreements which are subject to frequent renegotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available, we suggest that you check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report On Clurrent Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an issuance of the U.S. Customs Service, which is updated weekly and is available at your local Customs office.


John Durant
Commercial Rulings Division

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