6 May 2019
Uniform Application of Customs Classifications Made for Item of Textile and Electronic Soundbar, Among Others
On 25 April 2019, a series of new Regulations concerning the classification of goods in the EU’s Combined Nomenclature were published in the Official Journal. The Regulations state that, in order to ensure the uniform application of the Combined Nomenclature which is annexed to Council Regulation 2658/87 on the tariff and statistical nomenclature and on the Common Customs Tariff, it is necessary to adopt measures concerning the classification of the goods referred to in the annex to each Regulation. Some of these may be of interest to Hong Kong exporters, being consumer goods such as household articles of textile and electronic items.
Hong Kong sellers may know that the Combined Nomenclature (CN) is a tool for classifying goods, set up to meet the requirements both of the Common Customs Tariff and of the EU's external trade statistics. The CN is also used in intra-EU trade statistics. It is moreover a development (with special EU-specific subdivisions) of the World Customs Organization's Harmonized System nomenclature. This, in turn, is a systematic list of commodities applied by most trading nations (and also used for international trade negotiations). The CN subheading stated in declarations for imported and exported goods determines both which rate of customs duty applies, and how the goods are treated for statistical purposes or for other European Union policies.
Regulation 2019/643: This Regulation concerns an article designed to be used to organise cables in cabinets. It is an article consisting of a rectangular plate made of steel and rectangular shaped brackets of plastics. The article has perforations at both ends of the plate to enable it to be fixed to steel cabinets, which can be used in telecommunication, data processing systems, etc. The article has the objective characteristics of a fitting of base metal suitable for furniture classified under heading 8302. Consequently, the article is to be classified under CN code 8302 42 00 as other base-metal mountings, fittings and similar articles suitable for furniture, attracting a conventional rate of duty of 2.7%.
Regulation 2019/44: This Regulation concerns an apparatus for the precise transfer of liquid droplets (a so-called ‘liquid handler’). The apparatus is used in the preparation of samples in laboratory sites to transfer specific volumes of reagents from one microplate to another. The apparatus is to be classified under CN code 8479 89 97 as other machines and mechanical appliances having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere, attracting a conventional rate of duty of 1.7%.
Regulation 2019/645: This Regulation describes an article made of woven textile fabric (cotton) composed of three textile pockets stitched together and designed to be hung on a high bed rail. The article is intended for storing small items. The pockets may be decorated to match the theme of a child's room. The pockets are not considered furnishing articles, but serve as storage units. The article is therefore to be classified under CN code 6307 90 98 as other made-up articles, attracting a conventional rate of duty of 6.3%.
Regulation 2019/646: By means of this Regulation, an article which is suitable for use solely or principally with earth-moving machinery is described for customs classification purposes. It is a track link assembly (a so-called ‘track-chain’) made of cast steel. The article is to be classified under CN code 8431 49 20 as other parts suitable for use solely or principally with the machinery of headings 8425 to 8430; of cast iron or cast steel. No conventional rate of duty applies.
Regulation 2019/647: This Regulation describes an audio apparatus (a so-called ‘soundbar’) for sound reproduction of audio files of various formats from various interfaces. The apparatus is equipped with Bluetooth and WiFi network connectivity, among others. It can be used with another sound reproducing apparatus or with a television apparatus. It can also reproduce audio files stored on a USB flash memory or an internet radio. It is designed to create surround sound and stereo effects. Since the apparatus is supplied with a USB connection, it means that it is using semiconductor media. Therefore, the product is to be classified under CN code 8519 81 45 as ‘other sound reproducing apparatus using semiconductor media’. This apparatus attracts a conventional rate of duty of 1.1%.
For all the above-mentioned Regulations, binding tariff information which does not conform to them may continue to be invoked for a period of three months from the date of their entry into force. All the Regulations entered into force on the twentieth day following that of their publication in the Official Journal of the EU.
Lastly, Regulation 2019/648, which was also published on 25 April, repeals earlier Regulation 113/2014, which concerns the classification of an apparatus designed to capture a sequence of images. The apparatus additionally incorporates a volatile internal memory able to temporarily store those images, and is referred to as a so-called ‘high speed camera’, classified under CN code 8525 80 19 as other television cameras. In its judgement in case Vision Research Europe, C-372/17, the Court of Justice ruled that Regulation 113/2014 is invalid. The Commission notes that, for reasons of legal certainty, provisions which have been declared invalid by the Court of Justice should be formally removed from the legal order of the EU. Implementing Regulation 113/2014 is accordingly repealed.