CLA-2 RR: CR: GC 967282 TPB / KKV
Mr. Edward B. Ackerman
Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz, Silverman & Klestadt LLP
399 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10022-4000
RE: Classification of MPL-9300 Series Pressure Switches; Eligibility Under The Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act
Dear Mr. Ackerman:
This is in response to your letter dated June 25, 2004, filed on behalf of your client, Micro Pneumatic Logic, Inc. (“MPL”) to the Director, National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, requesting classification of the 9300 Series pressure switches under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (“HTSUSA”). Additionally, this ruling addresses your further submission of July 20, 2004, requesting that in the event a heading other than the one proposed in your June 25 submission be reached by Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”), that eligibility of the merchandise under the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (“CBERA”) be ruled upon. Your letters were referred to this office for reply.
The merchandise under consideration is described as the MPL-9300 Series of pressure switches, which include the 9300, 9370 and 9371 models. All MPL-9300 series switches are diaphragm actuated snap-action switches rated up to 5 amps, and are typically used in the HVAC (Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning) industry. They are low range switches used to sense pressure, vacuum, or differential levels and are capable of sensing very low setpoints.
The MPL-9300 Series consist of a plastic housing, snap action switch with positive snap action and self-wiping silver alloy contacts with a molded silicone diaphragm. These switches convert low pressure or vacuum into movement of an actuator disk, which operates the contacts. We are informed that the switches are manufactured in Costa Rica.
Are the subject pressure switches classified under subheading 8536.50.7000, HTSUSA, as electromechanical snap-action switches for a current not exceeding 11 amps, or under subheading 8536.50.9040, HTSUSA, which provides for electrical apparatus for switching electrical circuits, other snap action switches (other than limit)?
II. CBERA Eligibility
If the 9300 Series pressure switches are not classified under subheading 8539.50.7000, HTSUSA, are they eligible for duty-free entry under CBERA?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
I. Classification of the 9300 Series Pressure Switches
Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (“GRIs”). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRIs may then be applied.
The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:
Electrical apparatus for switching or protecting electrical circuits, or for making connections to or in electrical circuits (for example, switches, relays, fuses, surge suppressors, plugs, sockets, lamp-holders, junction boxes), for a voltage not exceeding 1,000 V:
8536.50.70 Electronic AC switches consisting of optically coupled input and output circuits (insulated thyristor AC switches); electronic switches, including temperature protected switches, consisting of a transistor and a logic chip (chip-on-chip technology); electromechanical snap-action switches for a current not exceeding 11 amps
GRI 6, HTSUS, provides as follows:
For legal purposes, the classification of goods in the subheadings of a heading shall be determined according to the terms of those subheadings and any related subheading notes and, mutatis mutandis, to the above rules on the understanding that only subheadings at the same level are comparable. For the purposes of this rule, the relative section, chapter and subchapter notes also apply, unless the context otherwise requires.
To ensure that uniformity can be maintained at the subheading level, GRIs 1 to 5 govern classification to subheading levels within the same heading. After determining the appropriate heading in accordance with the first five rules, we then apply the GRIs again, to the appropriate subheading.
When making comparisons of subheadings, we compare the same level six-digit to six-digit, or eight-digit to eight-digit subheading, also taking into consideration section and chapter notes at the subheading level, unless the context otherwise requires.
The subheadings in question deal with electrical snap-action switches. One subheading provides for electromechanical snap-action switches, while the other provides for other snap-action switches (other than limit). The term “electromechanical” is not defined in the HTSUS or the Harmonized System Explanatory Notes, which, although not binding or dispositive, constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. Undefined tariff terms are construed in accordance with their common and commercial meaning. See Nippon Kogaku (USA), Inc. v. United States, 69 CCPA 89, 673 F2d. 380 (1982). Common and commercial meaning may be determined by consulting dictionaries, lexicons, scientific authorities and other reliable sources. See C.J. Tower & Sons v. United States, 69 CCPA 128, 673 F2d. 1268 (1982).
CBP has researched the meaning of the term “electromechanical” as it relates to 8536.50.70, HTSUS and has determined that for purposes of this subheading, “electromechanical” refers to mechanical movement that is created via electrical force (i.e. electromagnetic, electrostatic, etc.). See HQ 965895, dated December 13, 2002. As indicated in the FACTS section above, the molded silicone diaphragm of the 9300 Series switches converts very low pressure or vacuum into movement of an actuator disk, which operates the silver alloy contacts. As these switches are actuated by pressure, rather than by electrical force, they are not considered “electromechanical” for the purposes of this subheading. Therefore, the 9300 Series pressure switches are classified under subheading 8536.50.9040, HTSUSA, which provides for other snap action, other than limit.
II. Eligibility for preferential treatment under the Caribbean Basin Economic
With regard to the pressure switches under consideration, CBP has not been provided with a description of the manufacturing process, nor received information regarding the regarding the country of origin of the component materials. Therefore, we are unable to determine whether the subject switches are a “product of” Costa Rica. Nor are we able to determine whether any of the non-Costa Rican component materials undergo the requisite double substantial transformation to permit their inclusion in the 35 percent value-content calculation. With regard to the value-content requirement, we note that while CBP has been provided with a rudimentary product valuation chart for six different part ID numbers (which we assume are model numbers) because it contains only conclusory totals for each category with no itemized break-out, we are unable to ascertain what articles have been included in each category. Accordingly, based upon the information provided, we are unable to conclude that the subject switches meet the criteria necessary for preferential tariff treatment under the CBERA.
For the reasons stated above, the 9300 Series pressure switches are classified under subheading 8536.50.9040, HTSUSA, as: “Electrical apparatus for switching or protecting electrical circuits, or for making connections to or in electrical circuits (for example, switches, relays, fuses, surge suppressors, plugs, sockets, lamp-holders, junction boxes), for a voltage not exceeding 1,000 V: Other switches: Other: Other: Snap-action, other than limit.” The 2004 column one, general rate of duty is 2.7%.
With regard to the 9300 Series eligibility for preferential treatment under CBERA, for the reasons set forth above, CBP is unable to make a determination as to their eligibility.
Duty rates are provided for your convenience and are subject to change. The text of the most recent HTSUS and the accompanying duty rates are provided on the Internet at www.usitc.gov.
Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial Rulings Division