CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 955947 DWS

District Director
U.S. Customs Service
111 W. Huron Street, Room 603
Buffalo, NY 14202-2378

RE: Protest 0901-93-101118; Stainless Steel Woven Wire Cloth Mesh; Diffuser Screen Component for Air Bag Systems; Material Lengths; HQs 955346, 952938, and 084610; APTA; 19 CFR 10.84; General Note 5(a); 8708.99.50

Dear District Director:

The following is our decision regarding Protest 0901-93- 101118 concerning your action in classifying and assessing duty on stainless steel woven wire cloth mesh under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).


The merchandise consists of stainless steel woven wire cloth mesh, imported from Canada, for use as a diffuser screen component in air bags for the U.S. manufacture of automobiles. In Canada, the mesh wire is drawn from a steel rod to correct diameter size, woven into cloth, and sliced into ribbons constituting the diffuser screens. These ribbons must correspond to precise specifications provided by the automotive manufacturer in the U.S., as to the weave density and width of the mesh.

The weave density determines the mesh's ability to diffuse the gases that explode within the air bag upon engagement of the air bag system. Pursuant to federal motor vehicle safety standards and the automotive manufacturer's specifications to prevent injury to the vehicle's occupant, each air bag system requires a specific weave density for the gases of the accelerant used in the air bag system to diffuse in such a manner and at such a speed that the air bag effectively expands within the time permitted.

Each different model air bag system within the complete range of motor vehicles requiring federally mandated driver side air bag systems also must have a precise width of mesh. The width of the mesh determines the area of diffusion covered by the mesh when used as a diffuser screen in the air bag system. The weave density and width of the mesh are mathematically and scientifically calculated and tested by the air bag system manufacturer to comply with federal and automotive industry standards for air bag systems.

In Canada, the mesh, in sizes 18 and 30 mesh, is slit to the exact specifications provided by the ultimate U.S. purchasers for use as original equipment in the manufacture in the U.S. of a motor vehicle. Once slit to size, the mesh has no practical or potential use other than as a specific size diffuser screen for a specific air bag system. The mesh is then wound in coils of approximately 300 to 500 feet in length, with each roll being sealed and wrapped to prevent any contamination, and imported into the U.S.

After importation into the U.S., the mesh undergoes the process of being cut to exact length, and its cut ends seam welded for installation into an air bag system.

The stainless steel woven wire cloth mesh was entered under subheading 8708.99.50, HTSUS, as parts of motor vehicles, requesting duty-free treatment under the Automotive Products Trade Act (APTA). The entry was liquidated on March 12, 1993, under subheading 7314.11.20, HTSUS, as steel woven wire cloth. Because it was the determination of your office that the protestant satisfied the requirements under the U.S.-Canada Free- Trade Agreement (CFTA), the entry was liquidated at the reduced duty rate of 2.4 percent ad valorem. The protest was timely filed on June 4, 1993.


Whether the stainless steel woven wire cloth mesh, imported into the U.S. in material lengths, is classifiable under subheading 8708.99.50, as parts of motor vehicles, or under subheading 7314.11.20, HTSUS, as steel woven wire cloth.

Whether the stainless steel woven wire cloth mesh is eligible for duty-free treatment under the APTA.



Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification is determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.

The protestant has established that the subject merchandise is designed and manufactured solely for assembly into air bag systems for inclusion in motor vehicles. Accordingly, as it is a part of motor vehicles, it should be classifiable under subheading 8708.99.50, HTSUS. The issue to be resolved is whether the merchandise, even though its ultimate use is as parts of motor vehicles, can be classifiable as such when imported in material lengths.

In HQ 955346, dated February 9, 1994, which concerned the classification of coils of stainless steel curved wire designed for the manufacture of piston rings for automobile engines, we stated that:

[u]nder a longstanding Customs principle, goods which are material when entered are not classifiable as a particular article unfinished. See Sandvik Steel, Inc. v. U.S., 321 F.Supp. 1031, 66 Cust. Ct. 12, C.D. 4161 (1971) (shoe die knife steel in coils and cutting rules in lengths, without demarcations for cutting or bending, held to be material rather than unfinished knives or cutting blades); The Harding Co. v. U.S., 23 Cust. Ct. 250 (1936) (rolls of brake lining held to be material because the identity of the brake lining was not fixed with certainty); Naftone, Inc. v. U.S., 67 Cust. Ct. 340, C.D. 4294 (1971) (rolls of plastic film without demarcations for cutting despite having only one use held to be insulating material).

See also HQ 952938, dated August 4, 1993, and HQ 084610, dated May 17, 1990.

Although the use of the merchandise is not questioned, because it is imported in material lengths, it is our position that it cannot be classifiable under subheading 8708.99.50, as unfinished parts of motor vehicles.

However, because subheading 7314.11.20, HTSUS, provides for stainless steel woven wire cloth with mesh, in sizes from 12 to 36 mesh, we find that the merchandise, in sizes 18 and 30 mesh, is specifically described, and is so classifiable, under that provision.


In part, section 10.84, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 10.84), states:

10.84 Automotive vehicles and articles for use as original equipment in the manufacture of automotive vehicles.

(a)(1) Certain motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment are eligible for duty-free entry as proclaimed by the President under the Automotive Products Trade Act of 1965. The articles designated for such duty-free treatment are defined in General Note 3(c)(ii), HTSUS (19 U.S.C. 1202). Specifically, such articles are those designated [as "Free (B)"] in the "Special" subcolumn in Chapter 87, HTSUS, and must qualify as "Canadian articles" as defined in General Note 3(c)(iii)(A)(1). To claim exemption from duty under the Automotive Products Act of 1965, an importer must establish, to the satisfaction of the appropriate Customs officer, that the article in question qualifies as a "Canadian article" for purposes of General Note 3(c)(iii)(A)(1). The Customs officer may accept as satisfactory evidence a certificate executed by the importer as set forth in paragraph (b) of the section, subject to any verification he may deem necessary. Alternatively, the Customs officer may determine that under the circumstances of the importation a certificate is unnecessary. . .

(b)(6) A certificate conforming to paragraph (b)(1), (2), or (3) of this section shall be accepted as evidence of the facts alleged therein only if:

(i) There is annexed thereto a copy of the commercial invoice or bill of lading covering the articles or other documentary evidence which identifies the article to which the certificate pertains,

(ii) The certificate is signed by the manufacturer or producer of the article to which it pertains, or by the person who exported the articles from Canada, and

(iii) It clearly appears that such copy or other documentary evidence was annexed to the certificate when it was signed. . .

(d) When an importer makes an entry, or withdrawal from warehouse, for consumption of articles for use as "original motor-vehicle equipment" as that term is defined in General Note 3(c)(iii), HTSUS, he shall file in connection therewith his declaration that the articles are being imported for use as original equipment in the manufacture in the United States of the kinds of motor vehicles specified in the General Note and furnish the name and address of the motor vehicle manufacturer. A copy of the written order, contract, or letter of intent shall be attached to the importer's declaration except that if the district director of Customs is satisfied that a copy of the written order, contract, or letter of intent will be made available by the importer or ultimate consignee for inspection by customs officials upon request during a period of 3 years from the date of such entry or withdrawal from warehouse, the production of such documents will not be required. Proof of use need not be furnished.

General note 5(a), HTSUS, states:

5. Automotive Products and Motor Vehicles Eligible for Special Tariff Treatment. Articles entered under the Automotive Products Trade Act are subject to the following provisions:

(a) Motor vehicles and original motor-vehicle equipment which are Canadian articles and which fall in provisions for which the rate of duty "Free (B)" appears in the "Special" subcolumn may be entered free of duty. As used in this note --

(i) The term "Canadian article" means an article which originates in Canada, as defined in general note 12.

(ii) The term "original motor-vehicle equipment", as used with reference to a Canadian article (as defined above), means such a Canadian article which has been obtained from a supplier in Canada under or pursuant to a written order, contract or letter of intent of a bona fide motor vehicle manufacturer in the United States, and which is a fabricated component originating in Canada, as defined in general note 12, and intended for use as original equipment in the manufacture in the United States of a motor vehicle, but the term does not include trailers or articles to be used in their manufacture.

(iii) The term "motor vehicle", as used in this note, means a motor vehicle of a kind described in headings 8702, 8703 and 8704 of chapter 87 (excluding an electric trolley bus and a three- wheeled vehicle) or an automobile truck tractor principally designed for the transport of persons or goods.

(iv) The term "bona fide motor-vehicle manufacturer" means a person who, upon application to the Secretary of Commerce, is determined by the Secretary to have produced no fewer than 15 complete motor vehicles in the United States during the previous 12 months, and to have installed capacity in the United States to produce 10 or more complete motor vehicles per 40-hour week. The Secretary of Commerce shall maintain, and publish from time to time in the Federal Register, a list of the names and addresses of bona fide motor-vehicle manufacturers.

As indicated by its legislative history, the APTA does not require that a fabricated component be in a finished condition or ready for assembly:

. . . although at the time of importation the component does not have to be in a condition completely ready for assembly without further fabrication, it must at a minimum be so far processed as to be physically recognizable as a component in an unfinished state. H. Rep. No. 537, 89th Cong., 1st Sess. (1965), p. 27.

It is our position that the stainless steel woven wire cloth mesh, in its condition as imported into the U.S., is "so far processed as to be physically recognizable as a component in an unfinished state." Prior to importation into the U.S., the mesh already meets automotive industry standards for diffuser screens in air bag systems. The mesh also complies with federal mandated safety requirements for driver side air bag systems. It is obvious to us that the merchandise, even though imported in material lengths, is solely dedicated for use as a diffuser screen component in air bags for the U.S. manufacture of automobiles. Therefore, it is our position that the merchandise is original motor-vehicle equipment of Canadian origin eligible for duty-free treatment under the APTA.

However, we have been apprised by your office that you have not received the proper documentation (certified purchase orders) necessary for the protestant to receive benefits under the APTA. Counsel for the protestant has assured us that such documentation will be sent to your office as soon as possible. Therefore, in accordance with 19 CFR 10.84, the granting of APTA benefits to the protestant should be made conditional upon your office receiving satisfactory evidence that the goods are so entitled.


The stainless steel woven wire cloth mesh is classifiable under subheading 7314.11.20, HTSUS, steel woven wire cloth.

The merchandise may be eligible to receive duty-free treatment under the APTA, provided the protestant is able to furnish the necessary documentation.

Therefore, because reclassification of the merchandise as indicated above will result in the same rate of duty as claimed, you are instructed to conditionally allow the protest in full.

In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, this decision, together with the Customs Form 19, should be mailed by your office to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing of the decision. Sixty days from the date of the decision the Office of Regulations and Rulings will take steps to make the decision available to Customs personnel via the Customs Rulings Module in ACS and the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, Lexis, Freedom of Information Act, and other public access channels.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division