Federal Circuit affirms HTSUS classification of frozen vegetable imports from Thailand 

July 3: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit today affirmed a decision of the trade court concerning the HTSUS classification of frozen tempura vegetables from Thailand. R.T. Foods, Inc. v. United States, 2013-1188 (Fed. Cir. July 3, 2014)

Read the Federal Circuit decision [PDF 115 KB]


The importer made 24 entries of frozen tempura-battered vegetable mixes from Thailand between October 2007 and August 2008.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) classified 13 entries under HTSUS 2004.90.85 with a customs duty rate of 11.2%. The remaining entries, however, were classified under HTSUS 2106.90.99 under a duty-free preference for products from Thailand. (According to CBP, these entries were accidentally entered duty-free.)

The importer filed protests, which were denied, and then initiated a judicial action before the U.S. Court of International Trade. In December 2012, the trade court granted the government’s motion for summary judgment and, thus, upheld CBP’s classification under HTSUS 2004.90.85.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit today affirmed that the trade court had properly classified the products under HTSUS 2004.

The Federal Circuit’s decision explains its tariff classification analysis process—i.e., classification first begins with headings and then any relative section or chapter notes are examined, and only after determining that a product is classifiable under the heading is a subheading consulted. In determining which heading is appropriate, comparisons are made only at the headings level; the language at the subheading level is not considered.

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