CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 956538 ch
Leonard L. Rosenberg, Esq.
Sandler, Travis, & Rosenberg, P.A.
5200 Blue Lagoon Drive
Miami, Florida 33126-2022
RE: Tariff Classification of a Front Panel Assembly for a
Dear Mr. Rosenberg:
This is in response to your letter, dated June 1, 1994, on
behalf of Panamco, Inc., requesting tariff classification under
the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) for a
front panel assembly which will be incorporated into a suitcase.
A sample of the front panel and the completed suitcase was sent
to this office for examination.
The instant merchandise is the front panel or lid of a
suitcase. It measures approximately 12 inches by 22 inches and
is composed primarily of nylon and vinyl. The exterior portion
of the panel features two zippered pockets and rigid edges
created by a rectangular wire frame. The interior portion of the
panel is lined with a woven man-made fabric. It possesses a
large zippered pocket and criss-crossed elastic straps with a
plastic fastener at the center.
The remainder of the suitcase includes a rear panel, walls
which comprise the body of the article, as well as certain
interior and exterior fittings. The exterior of the rear panel
possesses a large zippered pocket and plastic wheels. The
exterior walls have been reinforced to render them rigid. They
also incorporate a three-sided zipper opening, top and side
carrying handles, a retractable top handle to be used in
conjunction with the wheels and an identification card window.
The interior fittings include a plastic hanger and partitions
with elastic straps.
Whether the front panel assembly is classifiable in heading
4202, HTSUS, which provides in part for suitcases; or heading
6307, HTSUS, which provides for other made up textile articles?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 2(a) states in
pertinent part that:
Any reference in a heading to an article shall be taken to
include a reference to that article incomplete or
unfinished, provided that, as entered, the incomplete or
unfinished article has the essential character of the
complete or finished article.
Thus, if the front panel possesses the essential character of a
finished suitcase, it shall be classified as a container of
heading 4202, HTSUS.
In interpreting the HTSUS, we have construed the term
"essential character" to mean the attribute which strongly marks
or serves to distinguish what an article is; that which is
indispensable to the structure, core or condition of the article.
In addition, the Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity
Description and Coding System provide further guidance in this
regard. Factors such as bulk, quantity, weight or value, or the
role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the
goods are to be utilized, though the importance of certain
factors will vary between different goods. See Headquarters
Ruling Letter (HRL) 951537, dated January 6, 1993; EN Rule 3(b),
HCDCS p. 4.
In this instance, the front panel makes up only a fraction
of the bulk and weight of the finished article. The front panel
is composed of generally the same materials as the remainder of
the suitcase. Accordingly, the value of the materials used to
fabricate the front panel is only a small proportion of the total
material cost. Viewed in isolation, the shape or outline of the
finished article is not evident from the front panel.
Furthermore, we note that the front panel functions to
protect the contents of the suitcase and to provide storage space
for various personal effects. In this respect, the front panel
is no more important to the finished article than the walls or
the rear panel, which perform similar as well as other functions.
Hence, the front panel is not the distinguishing feature of the
suitcase. Therefore, based on the foregoing, we conclude that
the front panel does not possess the essential character of a
finished suitcase. It follows that this article cannot be
classified as a suitcase of heading 4202, HTSUS.
The front panel is composed of textile materials and is
classifiable within Section XI, HTSUS, which provides for
textiles and textile articles. The panel is not specifically
provided for within Section XI. Accordingly, it is classifiable
in heading 6307, HTSUS, which is the residual provision for
We note in passing HRL 951183, dated June 16, 1992, which
was a reconsideration of HRL 089289, dated December 9, 1991. In
that decision, the merchandise was described as follows:
The sample you initially provided was a bottom component of
a pullman suitcase. The top flap contains a half zipper
sewn around the outside edge. The top flap also has an
outside pocket the width of the entire top flap that
contains a zipper as a means of closure. The pocket is
designed for toting miscellaneous smaller items. Each
article is made of a vinyl backed woven nylon material. The
bottom component measures approximately 31 x 24 inches, with
an expandable maximum width of 9 inches. The bottom
component appears to be complete and in a condition ready to
be joined to the lid portion of the finished suitcase; it
has (sic) rigid edge and corner piping, a carrying handle
securely affixed to the top, reinforcing straps sewn
lengthwise onto the outside, inner straps for holding
clothing into place, a rigid bottom flap with plastic
fixtures for the attachment of wheels, and a half zipper
sewn around the approximate edge. The top portion and the
bottom portion of the suitcase will be imported separately.
In HRL 951183, we concluded that both the bottom and top portions
of the suitcase possessed the essential character of a finished
suitcase. Accordingly, the merchandise was classified in heading
The goods at issue in HRL 951183 should be distinguished
from the subject merchandise. In this instance, it appears to
this writer that the front panel makes up less of the total bulk,
weight and value of the finished article than either of the two
parts at issue in HRL 951183. Moreover, in that determination,
each piece played a greater role in relation to the finished
article than the instant panel (i.e. each piece incorporated more
of the features necessary to complete the suitcase than the front
panel assembly does in this case).
The subject merchandise is classifiable under subheading
6307.90.9989, HTSUS, which provides for other made up articles,
including dress patterns: other: other: other, other: other.
The applicable rate of duty is 7 percent ad valorem.
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division