CLA-2 OT:RR:CTF:TCM H023503 CKG
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Port of Anchorage
605 W 4th Ave, Rom 203
Anchorage, AK 99501
RE: Application for Further Review of Protest Number 3195-08-100009;
classification of plastic valve fitting bodies
Dear Port Director,
This is in reply to your correspondence forwarding Application for Further Review of Protest (AFR) 3195-08-100009, filed by Douglas N. Jacobson, LLP, on behalf of its client Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, Inc.
The imported articles are described as valve fitting bodies and valve nuts, used in fluid delivery systems. The valve fitting bodies and nuts are produced from high-performance plastic materials, including Perfluoroalkoxy (PFA), Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) and Polytetrafluorethylene. The valve nuts range from 3/4” to 2” in diameter and are used to connect the finished valves to pipes and other components of the valve system. The valve nuts apply compression on the flange into the valve body to create a tight seal. The valve fitting bodies include caps, union reducers, elbow adapters and straight union panels. They range from 1/8” to 1” in width.
The merchandise was entered between November 17, 2006 and February 2, 2007 in subheading 8481.90.90, of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), which provides for “other” parts of taps, cocks, valves and similar appliances
The entries were liquidated between July 13 and October 12, 2007. The valve fitting bodies were liquidated in subheading 3917.40.0090, HTSUS, which provides for “Tubes, pipes and hoses and fittings therefore (for example, joints, elbows, flanges) of plastics: fittings…other)”. The valve nuts were liquidated under subheading 3926.90.9980, which provides for “Other articles of plastic and articles of other materials of headings 3901-3914: Other: Other… Other.” The Protest was timely filed on January 8, 2008.
Whether the subject articles are classifiable in heading 3917, HTSUS, as “tubes, pipes and hoses and fittings therefore” of plastic, heading 3926, HTSUS, as “other articles of plastic” or heading 8481, HTSUS, as “parts of valves.”.
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Initially, we note that the matter protested is protestable under 19 U.S.C. §1514(a) (2) as a decision on classification. The protest was timely filed within 180 days of liquidation of the first entry on November 17, 2006. (Miscellaneous Trade and Technical Corrections Act of 2004, Pub.L. 108-429, § 2103(2) (B) (ii), (iii) (codified as amended at 19 U.S.C. § 1514(c) (3) (2006)).
Further Review of Protest No. 3195-08-100009 was properly accorded to Protestant pursuant to 19 C.F.R. § 174.24 because the decision against which the protest was filed involves specific factual and legal questions that have not been the subject of a Headquarters ruling or court decision.
Classification of goods under the HTSUS is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that classification 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 GRI may then be applied.
The 2006/2007 HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:
3917: Tubes, pipes and hoses and fittings therefore (for example, joints, elbows, flanges) of plastics
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3926: Other articles of plastic and articles of other materials of headings 3901-3914
* * * * *
8481: Taps, cocks, valves and similar appliances, for pipes, boiler shells, tanks, vats or the like, including pressure-reducing valves and thermostatically controlled valves; parts thereof
* * * * *
Section XV, Note 2, provides, in relevant part:
“Throughout the tariff schedule, the expression "parts of general use" means:
(a) Articles of heading 7307, 7312, 7315, 7317 or 7318 and similar articles of other base metals…”
Section XVI, Note 1(g) provides as follows:
“This section does not cover:
Parts of general use, as defined in note 2 to section XV, of base metal (section XV), or similar goods of plastics (chapter 39)”
Section XVI Note 2(b) states, in relevant part:
“Subject to note 1 to this section, note 1 to chapter 84 and to note 1 to chapter 85, parts of machines (not being parts of the articles of heading 8484, 8544, 8545, 8546 or 8547) are to be classified according to the following rules:
Other parts, if suitable for use solely or principally with a particular kind of machine, or with a number of machines of the same heading (including a machine of heading 8479 or 8543) are to be classified with machines of that kind…”
Note 2(s) to Chapter 39 states:
“This chapter does not cover:
Articles of section XVI (machines and mechanical or electrical appliances)”
* * * * *
The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (EN), constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. While neither legally binding nor dispositive, the EN provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of the headings. It is CBP’s practice to follow, whenever possible, the terms of the ENs when interpreting the HTSUS. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).
Explanatory Note (C) to Section XV provides:
“In general, identifiable parts of articles are classified as such parts in their appropriate headings in the Nomenclature…
However, parts of general use (as defined in Note 2 to this section) presented separately are not considered as parts of articles, but are classified in the headings of this Section appropriate to them. This would apply, for example, in the case of bolts specialised for central heating radiators or springs specialized for motor cars. The bolts would be classified in heading 73.18 (as bolts) and not in heading 73.22 (as parts of central heating radiators). The springs would be classified in heading 73.20 (as springs) and not in heading 87.08 (as parts of motor vehicles).”
* * * * *
In accordance with Note 2(s) to Chapter 39, HTSUS, if the merchandise is classified in Section XVI, it cannot be classified in Chapter 39, HTSUS. Protestant asserts that the instant articles are classifiable in Chapter 84 as “parts” of articles of heading 8481, HTSUS. Specifically, protestant claims that the valve fitting bodies and nuts at issue here are integral to the function of finished valves in creating a system to direct the flow of fluid pumped through the valve. Moreover, protestant contends that the valve fitting bodies and nuts are designed for and suitable for use solely with the importer’s own finished valves.
A "part," for tariff purposes, is an integral, constituent component of another article, necessary to the completion of the article with which it is used, and which enables that article to function in the manner for which it was designed. See HQ 961652, dated January 11, 1999, and HQ 966450, dated October 27, 2003.
As noted above, Section XVI note 1(g) excludes from coverage in Section XVI “parts of general use, as defined in Note 2 to Section XV, of base metal (section XV) or similar goods of plastic. Section XV, Note 2 defines “parts of general use” as: “Articles of heading 7307, 7312, 7315, 7317 or 7318 and similar articles of other base metals…” In contrast, note 2(b) to Section XVI, states that “Other parts, if suitable for use solely or principally with a particular kind of machine, or with a number of machines of the same heading (including a machine of heading 8479 or 8543) are to be classified with machines of that kind…” Thus, classification of the subject articles hinges primarily on whether they are “parts” of machines covered by Section XVI or “parts of general use” as defined in Section XV Note 2.
CBP has previously determined that goods in such general classes as bolts, springs, mountings, fittings and similar articles are “parts of general use”, even if specialized for use with specific products. The unique characteristics of the valve fitting bodies and nuts do not negate this concept. In HQ 966412, dated September 3, 2003, and HQ 966789, dated June 21, 2004, CBP arrived at this conclusion with regard to “oil bolts” for motorcycle brake transmissions. While the oil bolts therein had a specialized feature in that they were hollow and had a hole in their stem to enable the unimpeded passage of fluids, the oil bolts were still, in essence, screws--cylinder shaped metal objects that have threads and a head designed or adapted for tightening by an instrument. As such, they were classifiable in heading 7318, HTSUS. The fact that the oil bolts allowed for the passage of fluids did not negate that they had a significant fastening function. In Honda of America Manufacturing, Inc. v. United States, Slip op. 09-51 (2009 Ct. Intl. Trade), the CIT affirmed CBP’s approach in HQ 966412 and HQ 966789, concluding that the term “screw” defined the articles at issue and that the oil bolts were correctly classified in heading 7318, HTSUS.
Pursuant to American Honda, articles of metal comparable to the instant plastic pipe fittings would fall under headings 7307 or 7318 (see FN1 and FN2, above). The instant articles, as goods of plastic similar to those of headings 7307, HTSUS, or 7318, HTSUS are, therefore, parts of general use as defined in Section XV, Note 2, HTSUS. Explanatory Note (C) to Section XV, HTSUS, supports this view.
As “parts of general use” under Section XVI Note 1(g) and Section XV Note 2, the subject articles are thus excluded from classification under heading 8481, HTSUS. Although headings 3926 and 3917, HTSUS, both describe the subject articles, GRI 3(a) states that when a good is prima facie classifiable under two or more headings, the heading which provides the more specific description shall be preferred to a heading which provides a more general description. The instant articles are more specifically described in heading 3917, HTSUS, which provides for “Tubes, pipes and hoses and fittings therefore (for example, joints, elbows, and flanges) of plastics” than heading 3926, HTSUS, which is the residual provision for other articles of plastic.
Pursuant to GRI 1 and Note 1(g) to Section XVI, the plastic valve fitting bodies and nuts are classified in heading 3917, HTSUS, and are specifically provided for in subheading 3917.40.0090, HTSUS, as “Tubes, pipes and hoses, and fittings therefore (for example, joints, elbows, and flanges) of plastics: Fittings: Other.” The column one, general rate of duty in effect at the time of entry was 5.3%.
Since the rate of duty is the same as the liquidated rate, you are instructed to deny the protest in full. In accordance with Sections IV and VI of the CBP Protest/Petition Processing Handbook (HB 3500-08A, December 2007, pp. 24 and 26), you are to mail this decision, together with the Customs Form 19, 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 make the decision available to CBP personnel, and to the public on the CBP Home Page on the World Wide Web at www.cbp.gov, by means of the Freedom of Information Act, and other methods of public distribution.
Myles B. Harmon, Director,
Commercial and Trade Facilitation Division