CLA-2-56:S:N:N3H:350 872493

Mr. John M. Peterson
Neville, Peterson & Williams
39 Broadway
New York, New York 10006

RE: The tariff classification of a plastic and textile artificial leather material from Japan.

Dear Mr. Peterson:

In your letter dated March 17,1992, on behalf of Mitsubishi International Corporation of New York, you requested a classification ruling. You submitted a representative sample (41502), a Kenebo Bellace Sports catalogue, which contains a sample swatch card of other styles and a data sheet showing a production flow diagram and enlarged photo cross sections of the material. It is indicated that the material is available in various colors and finishes and that the material is suitable in the manufacture of a wide variety of products such as shoes, luggage and balls for sports and games.

You give a brief description of the manufacturing process and write that you are particularly interested in three styles of the artificial leather material. These are, with furnished data:

Style 41502 weighs 530 grams per square meter, of which 67%, by weight, is polyurethane plastic and 33% is nylon nonwoven textile. The material measures 1.5 mm in thickness and will be imported in rolls 100 cm wide.

Style 41506 weighs 610 grams per square meter, of which 72%, by weight, is polyurethane plastic and 28% is nylon nonwoven textile. The material measures 1.5 mm in thickness and will be imported in rolls 100 cm wide.

Style A1604 weighs 570 grams per square meter, of which 72%, by weight, is polyurethane plastic and 28% is nylon nonwoven textile. This material measures 1.55 mm in thickness and will be imported in rolls of either 100 cm or 138 cm wide. This particular material in intended for use in the manufacture of golf shoes.

You write that there are several steps in the production of these materials. Nylon fibers (the brochure lists both polyester and nylon) are carded into a web, which is then compacted by needleling. The web is further bonded throughout by permeation or an impregnation of a solution of polyurethane resin with solvents, colorants and other additives, which produces a uniform material suitable for use as artificial leather. You go on to write that after impregnation the material is subject to a further coagulation coating with rinsing and a softening treatment. This material may be further surfaced finished, such as embossing or, in some cases, an additional coating may applied to the surface. In all samples, the thickness of the textile is about twice that of the top layer of plastic (1.0 mm to 0.5mm).

It is requested that two of the styles - 41506 and A1604 - be classified under HTS 3921.13.11 as plates or sheets of cellular polyurethane plastic combined with man-made textile materials, over 70% by weight plastic, and that the third style - 41502 - be classified, since it is less than 70% by weight plastic, under HTS 3921.13.15.

You cite various Chapter 39 chapter and explanatory notes and refer to four NY ruling letters in support of your position. The numbers of these ruling are: 86047[sic] of October 29, 1991; 867385[sic] of October 23, 1991; 863540 of June 5, 1991 and 863521 of June 5, 1991. The correct number for the October 29th letter is 868047 and apparently two numbers of the October 23rd letter were inadvertently transposed, the correct number is 867835.

We note that the polyurethane in solution is not a cellular plastic. We take "cellular" plastic to mean that a foaming or blowing agent must be present or a beating action used to incorporate air, in order to create the air cells in the plastic. The process used to manufacture this material is, in essence, a coagulation coating process whereby the solvent is removed leaving the polyurethane particles to coagulate and permeate the textile web or remain coagulated on the surface as a a solid containing voids. The voids are left or created by the washing out of this solvent. The fibrous nature of the web is not lost and is noticeable on the under surface of the material. Also, the textile material is not really combined with a plate or sheet of plastic, as directed in the notes, but "coated" with a fluid.

Regarding the cited New York rulings, 863521 and 863540 were composed of plastic combined with "felt" and not a nonwoven fabric. Felts combined with plastic are controlled by legal note 3. (a) to Chapter 56. Your material is of nonwoven construction and not a felt. You note that in the other two rulings - 867835 and 868047 - the nonwoven materials were basically "scrims" serving as mere carriers for the plastic and thus considered present merely for reinforcing purposes.

This is not the case with your product. The textile fibers are used to help simulate the collagen fibers in natural leather and thereby become an integral part of this material. Your product is very similar, in all material and construction aspect, as to that product ruled on in Headquarters Ruling Letter 083602 of April 10, 1989. New York has been following the principles of this letter in answering all ruling requests, as is with your request. We do not consider the textile in your product there for mere reinforcement, but an essential character following General Rules of Interpretation note 3. (c).

The applicable subheading for this artificial leather material will be 5603.00.9090, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), which provides for Nonwovens, whether or not impregnated coated, covered or laminated. The duty rate will be 12.5 percent ad valorem.

Nonwoven textile fabrics fall within textile category designation 223. Based upon international textile trade agreements products of Japan are subject to the requirement of a visa.

The designated textile and apparel categories may be subdivided into parts. If so, visa and quota requirements applicable to the subject merchandise may be affected. Since part categories are the result of international bilateral agreements which are subject to frequent renegotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available, we suggest that you check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report on Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an internal issuance of the U.S. Customs Service, which is available for inspection at your local Customs office.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Section 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 177).

A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If the documents have been filed without a copy, this ruling should be brought to the attention of the Customs officer handling the transaction.


Jean F. Maguire
Area Director
New York Seaport