CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 950906 PR

District Director of Customs
United States Customs Service
10 Causeway Street
Boston, MA 02222-1052

RE: Request for Further Review of Protest 0401-91-100373; Dated May 30, 1991, Concerning the Classification and Country of Origin of Dehaired Cashmere

Dear Sir:

This ruling is on the protest filed against your decision in the reliquidations on March 1, 1991, of two entries of cashmere fibers. Our decision on the matter follows.


Raw cashmere fibers from Cashmere goats in Afghanistan were shipped to Belgium where they were scoured and disinfected. The cashmere was then sent to the United Kingdom where it underwent a "dehairing" process--the separation of fine down fibers from the coarse strong fibers. The fine down cashmere fibers were then shipped to the United States.


The entries covering the subject merchandise were liquidated under the provision for carded or combed fine animal hair, in subheading 5105.30.0000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). The merchandise was considered to be a product of Afghanistan. The 1991 rate of duty applicable to products of Afghanistan classifiable in 5105.30.0000 was 81.6 cents per kilogram plus 20 percent ad valorem. The importer believes that the merchandise is a product of the United Kingdom, classifiable under the provision for cashmere, not carded or combed, in subheading 5102.10.4000, HTSUSA. Thus, both the classification and country of origin are in issue. LAW AND ANALYSIS:

Country of Origin

Section 12.130, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 12.130) provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

(b) Country of origin. For the purpose of this section * * * a textile or textile product, subject to section 204, Agricultural Act of 1956, as amended, imported into the customs territory of the United States shall be a product of a particular foreign territory or country, or insular possession of the U.S., if it is wholly the growth, product, or manufacture of that foreign territory or country, or insular possession. However, * * * a textile or textile product, subject to section 204, which consists of materials produced or derived from, or processed in, more than one foreign territory or country, or insular possession of the U.S., shall be a product of that foreign territory or country, or insular possession where it last underwent a substantial transformation. A textile or textile product will be considered to have undergone a substantial transformation if it has been transformed by means of substantial manufacturing or processing operations into a new and different article of commerce.

* * *

The importer's position is that the imported merchandise underwent a substantial transformation in Belgium and a second substantial transformation in the United Kingdom.

We do not agree that the processing operations in either Belgium or the United Kingdom constituted a substantial transformation of the merchandise, changing the country of origin of the cashmere from Afghanistan to Belgium or to the United Kingdom.

Raw cashmere fibers were sent from Afghanistan to Belgium. Clean cashmere fibers were then sent from Belgium to the United Kingdom. The protestant has presented a large amount of material to show that scouring cashmere fibers is a time consuming, expensive, technical process. While that may be true, it appears to be no more so than the dyeing and/or printing of fabric, which is not considered to result in a substantial transformation without other major processing. As in the case of dyeing and/or printing of fabric, the processing does not essentially change the product. The fibers enter the scouring process with impurities and exit the process with those impurities removed. In simple terms, dirty fibers were imported into Belgium and clean fibers were exported out of Belgium. However involved it may be, scouring is merely a cleaning process and is not sufficient to result in a substantial transformation of the merchandise.

After being scoured and disinfected in Belgium, a mixture of clean coarse and fine cashmere fibers was exported to the United Kingdom. The processing in the United Kingdom consisted of separating the two types of fibers and exporting the fine cashmere fibers to the United States. Again, while the processing may be technical and complex, it appears that it was merely a sorting operation and did not result in a substantial transformation of that merchandise.

The importer's representative has also submitted documentation to support its assertion "that scouring and dehairing of cashmere has historically been considered a substantial enough process for the processing country to be the country of origin."

The data submitted by the protestant shows that substantial amounts of scoured cashmere with the country of origin indicated to be Belgium were imported into the United States in each of the years 1981 through 1991. In addition, the submitted data shows that no scoured cashmere was exported from Afghanistan to the United States during the years 1981 to 1984. However, in 1985, the year that the final version of 12.130 went into effect, and each year thereafter, significant quantities of scoured cashmere were exported from Afghanistan to the United States. While a percentage of cashmere fibers processed scoured and disinfected in Belgium and dehaired in the United Kingdom may have erroneously entered this country from 1985 to the present as products of those countries, we are not aware of any basis which would require Customs to extend that erroneous treatment to all such merchandise.


Imported goods are classifiable according to the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUSA). GRI 1 provides that for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings in the tariff and according to any pertinent section or chapter notes. It appears that GRI 1 governs the classification of the subject merchandise.

The term "fine animal hair" is defined in Chapter 51, Note 1(b), HTSUSA, as meaning the hair of, among other animals, the Cashmere or similar goats. Therefore, the instant merchandise is within the purview of the term "fine animal hair." The primary difference between Customs' classification of the merchandise and the classification advocated by the importer is whether the cashmere fibers have been carded or combed. This is a question of fact. Both our National Import Specialist and the importer's representative have submitted the following information which was obtained from the Wool Handbook, W. Von Bergen, Vol. One, 3d edition, 1963, at pages 361 and 362.

In its raw state commercial cashmere is an unsightly, dirty mixture of the fine undercoat and the coarse outercoat fibers. Dehairing refers to the process which has as its main purpose the separation or removal of the coarse stiff beard hairs from the fine cashmere fibers * * *

The mechanical details of the dehairing process used by the various dehairers are very well guarded. In a modified English combing process the hair is removed by carding and combing on circular combs, ending up with cashmere noils nearly free of hair. It must be pointed out that in normal worsted combing the noils are the by-product of the top, whereas in the cashmere combing the noils represent the valuable end product * * * The various patents reveal that the dehairing is accomplished by a modified carding process, employing breaking, cutting, blowing and suction devices * * *

Carding is defined in Fairchild's Dictionary of Textiles, edited by Dr. Isabel B. Wingate, 1967 edition, at page 104, as:

Preliminary process in spun yarn manufacture. The fibers are separated, distributed and equalized, and formed into a thin web and condensed into a continuous, untwisted strand of fibers called a sliver. This process removes most of the impurities and a certain amount of short, broken or immature fibers.

Similarly, The Modern Textile and Apparel Dictionary, George E. Linton, Fourth edition, 1973, at page 80, defines carding:

The process in yarn manufacture in which the fibers are brushed up, made more or less parallel, have considerable portions of foreign matter removed, and are put into a manageable form known as sliver. This approximates the size of a man's thumb in diameter.

On the other hand, noil is defined in The Modern Textile and Apparel Dictionary, op.cit. supra, at page 392:

The short fibers taken from any machine operation in the processing of textile fibers. They are obtained mostly in carding and combing operations. Fairchild's Dictionary of Textiles, op. cit. supra, at page 138, states that combing is a "step subsequent to the carding process." It is a process which "separates the long, choice, desirable fibers of the same length from the nep and short, immature undesirable stock that is called noil."

Thus, it appears that dehaired cashmere fibers (the equivalent of noils) are not the carded or combed fibers. Rather, those fibers have been removed from the carded or combed fibers during dehairing, which, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, we assume is a type of carding or combing operation. It is our view that in order to be classifiable as "carded or combed", the fibers must be in a sliver or a similar form.

The submitted sample is a mass of unaligned, unoriented fibers. In view of the above, we conclude that the imported cashmere fibers, although resulting from a carding or combing process, have not themselves been carded or combed and, therefore, are not classifiable in subheading 5105.30.0000.

The protest claims that the fibers should be classified in subheading 5102.10.4000, HTSUSA, which provides for cashmere hair not carded or combed and not processed in any manner beyond the degreased or carbonized condition. Because the cashmere fibers have undergone sterilization and dehairing processes subsequent to scouring, they cannot be classified in 5102.10.4000.


The merchandise is properly classifiable under the provision for other fine animal hair not carded or combed, in subheading 5102.10.9000, HTSUSA, with duty, as a product of Afghanistan, at the rate of 81.6 cents per kilogram plus 20 percent ad valorem. Since this rate of duty is the same as the liquidated rate, you are instructed to deny the protest in full. A copy of this ruling should be attached to the Customs Form 19, Notice of Action, which is furnished to the protestant.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division