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Imported Fabrics Are Not Microfibers, Subject to Section 301 Duties, CBP Rules

Seventeen styles of fabrics are not excluded from 10% Section 301 duties because they do not qualify as microfibers or microdeniers, CBP said in a Sept. 8 ruling, recently released publicly.

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The ruling was in response to a protest by importer Nassimi, which argued that fabrics imported between December 2018 and March 2019 should have been excluded from Section 301 duties under tariff subheading 9903.88.33. Nassimi said the merchandise fit the description of U.S. note 20(ll)(18) to Chapter 99, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the U.S., which includes “fabrics of man-made micro-denier fibers.” Nassimi described its fabrics as "man-made micro-denier fibers impregnated, coated, covered, or laminated with polyurethane, of a width of at least 135 cm but no more than 150 cm, weighing at least 206 g/m2 but not more than 500 g/m2."

In its analysis, CBP noted that the term “micro-denier” is not defined by legal notes, explanatory notes, or in any previously issued CBP rulings. The agency looked to the common or commercial meaning. CBP cited the Fairchild Books Dictionary of Textiles, which cross-references the terms “microfiber” and “microdenier," defining them as “very fine filament or staple fiber, generally less than 1.0 denier per filament or 10 microns in diameter."

Based on the CBP lab measurements, the subject samples provided by Nassimi all measured more than 10 microns in diameter. Therefore, the subject samples did not meet the definition of microfibers. CBP ruled that since the two terms are interchangeable, according to Fairchild, the samples did not meet the specifications of microdenier fibers either. The subject fabrics are not microdenier fibers so they couldn't be included in products provided for in U.S. note 20(ll)(18) to Chapter 99 and therefore couldn't be excluded from the 10% Section 301 duties.