CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 966177 BJB
Mr. Stephen Wong
8054 East Garvey Avenue
Rosemead, CA 91770
RE: Modification of NY D87503; Plastic clip with metal spring
Dear Mr. Wong:
This is in reference to New York Ruling D87503, which the Director, Customs National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, New York, issued to you on February 16, 1999. This ruling concerned the classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of several articles, including a plastic clip with a metal spring.
We have reviewed the ruling in NY D87503, and have determined the classification with respect to the subject plastic clip is incorrect. This ruling modifies NY D87503 with respect to this good and sets forth the correct classification.
Pursuant to section 625(c)(1), Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)(1)), as amended by section 623 of Title VI, (Customs Modernization) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057 (1993), a notice of proposed modification was published on February 19, 2003, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 37, Number 8, proposing to modify NY D87503, dated February 16, 1999, and to revoke the tariff treatment pertaining to the tariff classification of a “plastic clip with a metal spring.”
The merchandise was identified as a “plastic clip with metal spring,” packaged with other goods, including: backpacks made of textile material of man-made fibers, a pad of paper, vinyl-coated metal paper clips, plastic clothespins, plastic rings, rubber bands, and two felt-tipped pens. Customs determined that these goods were not adapted to one another, and not put up to meet one particular need or carry out a specific activity. Thus, as goods not put up together to meet a particular need, or carry out a specific activity, they were
not a set as provided for under the HTSUS, and each good was classified separately.
In NY D87503, the subject clip was classified under subheading 8308.90.90, HTSUS, which provides for, “[c]lasps, frames with clasps, buckle clasps, hooks, eyes, eyelets and the like and parts thereof, of base metal, of a kind used for . . . or other madeup articles; tubular or bifurcated rivets of base metal; beads and spangles of base metal: Other, including parts: Other[.]”
Whether the subject plastic clip with metal spring is classifiable as a clasp of base metal under heading 8308, HTSUS, or an other article of plastics under heading 3926, HTSUS?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is in accordance with
the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). Under General Rule of Interpretation
(GRI) 1, HTSUS, goods are to be classified according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6.
The HTSUS (2003) provisions under consideration are as follows:
Other articles of plastics and articles of other materials of headings 3901 to 3914:
* * * * * *
Clasps, frames with clasps, buckle clasps, hooks, eyes, eyelets and the like and parts thereof, of base metal, of a kind used for . . . or other madeup articles; tubular or bifurcated rivets of base metal; beads and spangles of base metal:
Other, including parts:
* * * * * *
As noted above, in NY D87503, at GRI 1, the subject plastic clip was classified under subheading 8308.90.90, HTSUS, as “[c]lasps . . ., of base metal, . . .: Other, including parts: Other[.]” However, at GRI 1, two headings describe the good in part. This clip is described in heading 3926, HTSUS, as an other article of plastics, and heading 8308, HTSUS, as a clasp of base metal. As the plastic clip is prima facie classifiable in more than one heading, it is necessary to resort to GRI 2.
GRI 2(a) does not apply. GRI 2(b), in pertinent part, provides:
“Any reference in a heading to a material or substance shall be taken to include a reference to mixtures or combinations of that material or substance with other materials or substances. Any reference to goods of a given material or substance shall be taken to include a reference to goods consisting wholly or partly of such material or substance. The classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be according to the principles of rule 3.”
GRI 3 provides, “when, by application of Rule 2(b) or for any other reason, goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows:
The heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings
providing a more general description. However, when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods . . ., those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description of the goods.”
GRI 3(b) provides, in pertinent part:
“(b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different
components, . . . , which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.”
In understanding the language of the HTSUS, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes may be utilized. The Explanatory Notes (ENs), although not dispositive or legally binding, provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS, and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).
EN V to GRI 3(a), in pertinent part, provides that:
“when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials contained in mixed or composite goods . . . those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description than the others. In such cases, the classification shall be determined by [GRIs] 3(b) or 3(c).”
The subject good is one in which different materials or components form a practically inseparable whole. We must, therefore, resort to GRI 3(b).
EN VII to GRI 3(b), provides that, in
“all these cases the goods are to be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.”
The term “essential character” is not defined within the HTSUS, GRIs or ENs. EN VIII to GRI 3(b), however, provides the following guidance:
“[t]he factor which determines essential character will vary as between different kinds of goods. It may, for example, be determined by the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.”
This clip has two plastic sides that form a baseline edge where the two sides meet, and only its spring is made of base metal. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Ed., (1999) (p. 211), defines a “clasp” as: “a device (as a hook) for holding objects or parts together[.]”
EN 83.08 (p. 1378), in pertinent part, provides that the heading includes:
“(C) Clasps, fasteners, and frames with clasps, for handbags, purses, brief-cases, executive-cases or other travel goods, or for books or wrist-watches; . . . .”
EN 83.08(C) describes clasps of base metal used to securely close or join the sides or ends of a good together (e.g., briefcases). Thus, the sides of a briefcase, which when left open leave the briefcase’s interior and contents exposed, are held securely closed by the interconnecting parts of a metal clasp mounted at corresponding points on each side of the case. Unlike the goods described in the heading and EN 83.08(C) the subject plastic clip is not designed to secure a good closed, or secure its contents. The subject clip is designed to be attached to light correspondence or small pieces of notepaper to organize them. The metal spring improves the clip’s capacity to remain in place once it is attached to the article it is intended to highlight. Thus, although this clip has a metal spring, its function does not make the subject good a clasp of base metal described in heading 8308, HTSUS.
Heading 3926, HTSUS, in pertinent part, provides for “[o]ther articles of plastics[.]” This clip is made of plastic except for its spring. Nearly the entire article is plastic in terms of bulk, quantity, and weight.
In NY D87503, we viewed this clip’s metal spring as imparting its essential character, and therefore, it was classified as a clasp of base metal described in heading 8308, HTSUS. We are now of the view that this clip is predominately of plastic, which imparts its essential character, and should be classified accordingly.
EN 39.26, in pertinent part, provides that the heading “covers articles . . . [that] include: (5) Paperweights, paper-knives, blotting pads, pen-rests, bookmarks, etc.” The goods described in EN 39.26 are of a kind used on a table or desk, at the office, school, or home to organize paperwork. As noted, the subject clip has a function complementary to these goods.
At GRI 3(b), we find that the subject plastic clip is classifiable in heading 3926, HTSUS, which provides for, in pertinent part, “other articles of plastics . . .[.]”
Based on the foregoing findings, at GRI 3(b), the subject plastic clip with metal spring is classifiable in subheading 3926.90.98, HTSUS, which provides for “[o]ther articles of plastics and articles of other materials of headings 3901 to 3914: Other: Other[.]”
EFFECT ON OTHER RULINGS:
NY D87503, dated February 16, 1999, is modified as to the plastic clip with metal spring. In accordance with 19 U.S.C. 1625(c), this ruling will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Customs Bulletin.
Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial Rulings Division