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EU Harmonises Classification of Certain Items

In early February 2017, the European Commission has published six regulations concerning the classification of goods in the Combined Nomenclature (CN). These goods consist of a single glass shelf, thumb grips for a game console controller, a tatami puzzle mat, an electrical apparatus for radio broadcast reception, a set of a notepad, notepad holder and pen, and a set of toys.

On 3 February 2017, the Commission published three regulations dated 27 January 2017.

Commission Implementing Regulation 2017/181 concerns a single glass shelf presented with metal supports for fixing it to the wall. The glass shelf consists of a transparent glass plate of irregular shape with processed edges and two holders made of an alloy of copper and zinc (brass), plated with nickel and chrome. The glass plate has two holes for mounting on the holders. The article is used for equipping rooms in, for example, private dwellings. It is therefore a piece of furniture in the sense of heading 9403. The glass shelf gives the article its essential character. Indeed, the metal holders, screws and dowels only serve to fix the glass shelf to the wall. Classification under CN code 9403 20 80 as ‘other metal furniture’ is thus excluded. As a result, the product is classified under CN code 9403 89 00 as ‘other furniture’, attracting a conventional duty rate of 5.6%.

Commission Implementing Regulation 2017/182 concerns so-called ‘thumb grips for a game console controller’, made of elastic silicone (plastics) with an anti-slip surface. The thumb grips are used as caps on the joysticks of a game console controller. The articles are intended to protect the game controller against sweat and wear and tear caused by intensive use, as well as to prevent fingers from slipping off the controller. The thumb grips merely enhance the function of the game controller. They are neither adapting the game controller for a particular operation, nor increasing its range of operations, nor performing a particular service relative to the main function of the game controller or of the game console. As a result, the classification as an accessory of video game consoles and machines of heading 9504 is excluded. The articles are therefore classified according to its constituent material (plastics) under CN code 3926 90 97 as ‘other articles of plastics’, attracting a conventional duty rate of 6.5%.

Commission Implementing Regulation 2017/183 concerns a so-called ‘tatami puzzle mat’ made of ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) in the form of 100 × 100 cm tiles with non-slip surface. The tiles have an interlocking connecting system based on the principle of puzzles, which are laid firmly on another surface and thus form a mat. The article is designed, on the one hand, to absorb shocks generated during various sportive activities through the cellular structure of the mat to protect the body and, on the other hand, to insulate noise, heat, and moisture. The article thus serves as a protection against damage of the surface underneath and to protect people performing various other activities. As the unassembled plastic floor covering is not solely for sports but also for the protection of surfaces and to protect people performing other activities, classification under heading 9506 as articles and equipment for general physical exercise, gymnastics, athletics, other sports or outdoor games is excluded. The article is therefore classified according to its constituent material (plastics) under CN code 3918 90 00 as ‘floor coverings of other plastics’, attracting a conventional duty rate of 6.5%.

On 7 February 2017, the Commission published Commission Implementing Regulation 2017/200, dated 1 February 2017. This Regulation concerns an electrical apparatus using Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) and Frequency Modulation (FM) technology for radio broadcast reception, which is capable of operating without an external source of power. The apparatus is equipped with a built-in loudspeaker, Bluetooth/Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) (which allows the apparatus to make sound audible wirelessly from sound-reproducing devices that are also equipped with Bluetooth/A2DP profile), a socket for connection to headphones, and a socket for connection to an external power adaptor. Apart from the function of radio broadcast reception, the apparatus receives, converts and transmits data, which is a function covered by heading 8517. Therefore, the apparatus cannot be considered to be combined with a sound-reproducing apparatus (function of heading 8519). The electrical apparatus is thus classified as an ‘other radio-broadcast receiver capable of operating without an external source of power’ not combined with a sound-reproducing apparatus under CN code 8527 19 00. This entry is not subject to any conventional rate of duty.

On 8 February 2017, the Commission published Commission Implementing Regulation 2017/209, dated 2 February 2017. The Regulation concerns the following three items, packaged together for retail sale: (1) a notepad consisting of approximately 75 blank sheets of paper. The sheets are bound by glue at the top and are perforated to allow individual sheets to be removed; (2) a notepad holder, made of plastic sheeting reinforced with cardboard on the inside. The holder also includes a pocket of transparent plastics and a loop of elasticated textile materials to hold a ballpoint pen; and (3) a thin ballpoint pen of plastic that is inserted into the textile loop. The items constitute goods put up in a set for retail sale within the meaning of GIR 3(b). The notepad gives the set its essential character, which is to provide writing paper for small notations or messages. Indeed, the holder merely provides a sort of envelope to protect the notepad, and the pen – considering its objective characteristics (size, design and value) – does not constitute an essential component of the set either. As the notepad is classified under heading 4820, which covers notebooks and notepads of all kinds, the set is classified under CN code 4820 10 30 as ‘notebooks, letter pads and memorandum pads’. This entry is not subject to any conventional rate of duty.

On 10 February 2017, the Commission published Commission Implementing Regulation 2017/226, dated 7 February 2017. This Regulation concerns toys, put up in the same packing for retail sale and consisting of (1) a battery-powered locomotive and a carriage, of plastics; (2) wooden tracks; and (3) traffic signs, cars, human figures, animals, trees, etc. Classification under CN code 9503 00 30 as an ‘electric train, including tracks, signals and other accessories therefor’ is excluded because the set also contains other toys of wood and plastics, such as traffic signs, cars, human figures, animals, trees, etc., which are toys in their own merit. Those toys are not directly connected with the electric train and the tracks like a train station, a railway crossing or a railway bridge are. Consequently, they are not considered as accessories to an electric train. The set of toys consists of different types of articles, designed for the amusement of children or adults, put up in the same packing for retail sale. The article is therefore to be classified under CN code 9503 00 70 as ‘other toys, put up in sets’, attracting a conventional duty rate of 4.7%.

Hong Kong traders should take note that for each of the regulations covered in this report, the date of entry into force is the twentieth day following their publication. Furthermore, for each regulation, binding tariff information which does not conform to the harmonised classifications may continue to be invoked for a period of three months from the date of entry into force.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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