In ruling NY N324042 (February 10, 2022), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) discussed the classification of a math tool set from China. The math tool set includes a plastic compass with a small wooden pencil attached as well as a plastic protractor. The math tool set comes packaged as a set for sale and is marketed as school supplies for children.

General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 1 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) states that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the chapter heading and any relative section or chapter notes. In addition, any goods that are classifiable under two or more headings will be classifiable per GRI 3 of the HTSUS. GRI 3(a) states that when two or more headings each respectively refer to different items that make up the whole set that is being put for retail sale, then those headings are to be regarded as equally specific, “even if one heading gives a more previses description of the good.” CBP determined that the math tool set is classifiable in accordance to GRI 3. This is because the merchandise consists of at least two different articles that are classifiable in different subheadings that are put up together to carry out a specific activity. In addition, the articles are also put up so that they may be sold directly to users without repacking, making them goods put up in sets for retail sale. GRI 3(b) states that goods put up for retail sale that cannot be classified by reference to GRI 3(a) are to be classified by the product that provides the essential character of the article. In its determination, CBP stated that the drawing instruments provide the essential character of the math tool set.

Therefore, CBP determined that the applicable subheading for the math tool set was 9017.20.8080, HTSUS, which provides for “Drawing, marking-out or mathematical calculating instruments (for example, drafting machines, pantographs, protractors, drawing sets, slide rules, disc calculators); instruments for measuring length, for use in the hand (for example, measuring rods and tapes, micrometers, calipers), not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter; parts and accessories thereof: Other drawing, marking-out or mathematical calculating instruments: Other: Other.” The rate of duty is 4.6%.

Additionally, pursuant to U.S. Note 20 to Subchapter III, Chapter 99, HTSUS, Chinese products under subheadings 9017.20.8080, HTSUS, unless specifically excluded, are subject to an additional 25% ad valorem duty rate. As such, the chapter subheading 9903.88.03 must be reported in addition to subheading 9017.20.8080, HTSUS.