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EU Harmonises Classification of, Among Others, Knitted Brassieres, Steering Wheel Covers, Paintballs, Pulse Oximeters and Suitcases

On 1 July and 8 July 2017, the European Commission published six regulations concerning the classification of goods in the Combined Nomenclature (CN), all of which may be of interest to Hong Kong traders. These goods consist of a video converter, a knitted brassiere, a steering wheel cover, paintballs, a pulse oximeter and a suitcase of which the transportation function can be combined with the function of a scooter.

On 1 July 2017, the Commission published five of these regulations:

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1166 concerns a so-called “video converter” with the following sockets: (1) a Serial Digital Interface (SDI); (2) a High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI); (3) an RJ-45 interface; and (4) a power connector. The electrical apparatus is designed to convert video signals from SDI format to HDMI format. The RJ-45 interface is ancillary to the principal function of video conversion, as it serves only to receive updates while no video signals are transmitted. Classification under heading 8517 is therefore excluded. As a result, the “video converter” is classified under CN code 8543 70 90 as “other electrical machines and apparatus”, having individual functions not specified or included elsewhere in Chapter 85, attracting a conventional duty rate of 3.7%.

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1167 concerns a knitted brassiere with adjustable broad padded shoulder straps, centrally positioned over the breasts, with shaped cups and elastication at the back part of the base. The brassiere has a lining in the cups, with side openings for the insertion of padding for the enhancement of breasts (aesthetic purposes) or for the insertion of breast forms following a mastectomy. The article has the objective characteristics (the form and the construction) of a brassiere of heading 6212, which includes brassieres of all kinds.

Although the article can also be worn by women following a mastectomy, classification under heading 9021 as an orthopaedic appliance or as a part or accessory of an artificial part of the body is excluded because, at the time of importation, the objective characteristics of the product are those of a brassiere of heading 6212 and do not give any indication of the final use (for aesthetic or medical purposes). The broad shoulder straps, centrally positioned over the breasts are a common feature for bigger cup brassieres of heading 6212. It follows that the article is classified under CN code 6212 10 90 as a “brassiere”, attracting a conventional duty rate of 6.5%.

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1168 concerns a so-called “steering wheel cover” made of plastics. The article is designed to cover the steering wheel of a motor vehicle in order to improve its appearance, to protect the steering wheel against the sweat, wear and tear caused by its use and to protect hands from hot and cold extremes. Classification under subheading 8708 94 as a part of a steering wheel is excluded as the article is not indispensable for the function of the steering wheel. Classification under subheading 8708 99 as other parts or accessories of motor vehicles of headings 8701 to 8705 is also excluded as the article is not indispensable for the function of the motor vehicle, nor does it adapt the motor vehicle for a particular operation, increase its range of operations or enable it to perform a particular service connected with its main function. Consequently, the article is to be 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 (EU) 2017/1169 concerns a so-called “paint ball” made of a hard gelatine shell containing water-based paint, which is designed to be used as a projectile for a paintball gun (an air gun with a nozzle velocity of 91 meters per second) during the multi-player game ‘paintball’. Due to considerable nozzle velocity, the paintball gun is an air gun of heading 9304. As the paintball is a projectile used for shooting with air guns similar to pellets or darts, the paintball is another kind of ammunition. Classification as a product of Chapter 95 is excluded by virtue of note 1 (s) to Chapter 95. As a result, the paint ball is to be classified under CN code 9306 90 90 as a “projectile”, attracting a conventional duty rate of 2.7%.

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1170 concerns a compact battery-operated fingertip apparatus, a so-called “pulse oximeter”, which combines an electronic processor, a pair of light emitting diodes (LED), a photo diode and an LED display in one unit. It is used as a non-invasive method of monitoring a person's oxygen saturation and for measuring a pulse by means of optical radiation. It can be used in professional medical practice and in research, sport, business etc. The apparatus falls under the scope of heading 9018, which covers a very wide range of instruments and appliances which, in the vast majority of cases, are used only in professional practice to prevent or treat an illness or to operate, etc. While this kind of apparatus can be used by non-professionals, it is of a kind used for medical purposes as it provides information concerning “vital body functions” that may need to be further analysed by professionals. Classification under heading 9027 as instruments and apparatus for physical or chemical analysis using optical radiation is consequently excluded. It follows that the apparatus is to be classified under CN code 9018 19 10 as “instruments and apparatus used in medical science, monitoring apparatus for simultaneous monitoring of two or more parameters”. This entry is not subject to any conventional rate of duty.

On 8 July 2017, the Commission published Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1234 dated 3 July 2017. This Regulation concerns a composite product consisting of: (1) a vertical aluminium column with an axle at the base and a plastic wheel affixed at either end of the axle; (2) a foldable, horizontal aluminium board designed for standing on, with a plastic wheel affixed at the far end; and (3) a suitcase with an outer surface made of moulded plastic material and fixed to the vertical column by clamps which can be opened. Its main function is essentially to transport goods in the suitcase. This can be done either by someone standing on the horizontal board and propelling the product along (with the board folded down) or by someone pushing or pulling it along in the same way as a conventional trolley suitcase on wheels (with the board folded up). The scooter components are of subordinate character that facilitates the transport of goods contained in the suitcase. It is therefore the suitcase that gives the product its essential character. Classification under heading 8716 as other vehicles, or under heading 9503 as a scooter, is accordingly excluded. The product is therefore to be classified under CN code 4202 12 50 as “a suitcase with an outer surface of moulded plastic material”, attracting a conventional duty rate of 5.2%.

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.

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