Classification Regulations

The European Commission published the following Classification Regulations in November 2012:

  • Commission Implementing Regulation 1089/2012 – classifying a “multi-switch” (with intermediate frequency input interfaces, an output interface for terrestrial TV aerials, four outputs for connection to satellite receivers, and including an amplifier for compensating cable loss), under CN code 8543 70 90 as an apparatus not having a function specified elsewhere in Chapter 85.
  • Commission Implementing Regulation 1108/2012 – classifying a U-shaped bolt of galvanized steel used for holding, for example, two or more wires together within heading 7326 as other articles of steel.
  • Commission Implementing Regulation 1109/2012 – classifying a “CCD area image sensor” consisting of three fibre-optic plates with scintillators mounted on linearly-arranged chargecoupled device chips, used for X-ray imaging as a part of television cameras, under CN code 8525 80 19.
  • Commission Implementing Regulation 1110/2012 – classifying a “Universal dual-port car charger” comprising a car cigarette adapter, two USB interfaces and a light indicator as other static converters, under CN code 8504 40 90.
  • Commission Implementing Regulation 1111/2012 – classifying certain stickers used for decoration, under CN code 4911 91 00 as printed pictures. 
  • Commission Implementing Regulation 1112/2012 – classifying a USB cable of 1m in length (with insulated twisted wires and USB connectors at both ends) as other electric conductors for a voltage not exceeding 1 000 V fitted with connectors, under CN code 8544 42 90. 
  • Commission Implementing Regulation 1114/2012 – classifying a “minitrac” (i.e. a tracklaying vehicle for the transport of goods, in this case excavated or other materials over short distances on rough terrain) with a compressionignition internal combustion piston engine as a dumper designed for off-highway use, under CN code 8704 10 10.

CNEN amendments for static converters and sprouts

The Commission has published an amendment to the Combined Nomenclature Explanatory Notes (CNENs) for Chapter 7 (edible vegetables and certain roots and tubers). Published on 15 November 2012, this amendment clarifies the scope of products considered “sprouts” (i.e. vegetable sprouts and other sprouts) and the proper CN classification of a wide variety of sprout products.

On 29 November 2012, the Commission published another CNEN amendment, this time for static converters classified under CN code 8504 40 30. The amendment confirms that these products do not necessarily exclusively serve to convert the alternating current (AC) drawn from the mains supply into the requisite direct current (DC).  

CN clarification of petroleum oils and seaweed

On 13 November 2012, the Commission added new text to clarify the scope of CN Chapter 20 as including seaweeds and other algae prepared or preserved by processes such as cooking roasting, seasoning and adding sugar (through Commission Implementing Regulation 1055/2012).  

On 29 November 2012, the Commission added new text to CN Chapter 27 establishing the minimum content of biodiesel for products classified under subheading 2710 20 (petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals) (through Commission Implementing Regulation 1113/2012).  

CJEU classification judgments on composite cables and set-top boxes

On 15 November 2012, the European Court of Justice (CJEU) issued its judgment in Case C-558/11 (SIA Kurcums Metal v. Valsts ieņēmumu dienests) on the classification of certain composite cables and corrugated clips with rounded tips used in the production of deepsea fishing equipment, referred to it by a Latvian court. The CJEU held that the cables had to be classified by means of General Interpretation Rule 3(c) – i.e. under the heading occurring last in numerical order among those that equally merit consideration – as it could not be established which of the two main materials of the cables provided the product with its essential character (i.e. the steel or the polypropylene). With respect to the clips, the Court concluded that they cannot be classified in the heading for nails, tacks, drawing pins, etc. as they do not have pointed tips. The CJEU also determined that the absence of one relevant CN code for steel cables in only the Latvian language version of a Regulation imposing anti-dumping duties would not excuse the cables in question from anti-dumping measures, as it clearly involved an editing mistake.

On 22 November 2012, the CJEU issued a further classification judgment in Joined Cases C-320/11, C- 330/11, C-382/11 and C-383/11 (Digitalnet OOD, Tsifrova komania OOD and M SAT CABLE AD v. Nachalnik na Mitnicheski punkt – Varna Zapad pri Mitnitsa Varna) related to certain set-top boxes with a communication function, on the basis of questions referred to it by a Bulgarian court. The CJEU held that a set-top box will be considered to have a modem for gaining access to the internet – and thus be subject to duty-free treatment – if the modem component in question is “a device which, alone and without intervention of any other apparatus or mechanism, is able to access the internet and to ensure interactivity and an exchange of information in both directions”. In other words, the particular technique to achieve this internet access capacity is irrelevant in this context. The CJEU further clarified that, considering the wording of the relevant CN heading, the reception of TV signals and the presence of a modem allowing access to the internet are two equivalent functions that have to be performed in order for the product to be classifiable under CN code 8528 71 13 (and in the absence of one of these functions, the apparatus is classifiable under CN code 8528 71 19). The CJEU further confirmed that the customs authorities are not required to carry out a physical check of goods at inspections performed after customs release, and can therefore determine the classification of the product solely on the basis of written documents.

Nomenclature Committee

(a) Mechanical/Miscellaneous Sector

The 97th meeting of the Mechanical/Miscellaneous Sector of the Nomenclature Committee was held on 22- 23 November 2012. The agenda for that meeting shows that the classification of products such as all-terrain vehicles, swivel and fixed castors, multi-layer wooden panels, grooved pipes and professional CD players/mixers was scheduled for a first discussion.

Further examination was also expected on classification issues relating to TV covers and frames, control units with touch-screens and LCD module components. Finally, listed as subject to conclusion were classification issues relating to parts of safety seat belts, fun massagers, ornamental screws and small LCD modules.

(b) HS/WCO Coordination

The next meeting of the HS/WCO Coordination Sector of the Nomenclature Committee will be held on 18 December 2012. The agenda for the meeting indicates that the topics of discussion will include possible HS amendments relating to ceramic tiles, LED products, steel tubes and fasteners. Possible amendments to the HSENs for peroxides and steel tubes are also scheduled for discussion.

(c) Agriculture/Chemical Sector

The 98th meeting of the Agriculture/Chemical Sector of the Nomenclature Committee is scheduled to be held on 6-7 December 2012. According to the agenda for this meeting, a draft regulation on tariff classification of ethyl alcohol mixtures will be subject to a committee vote, whilst tariff classification of such products as maize flour snacks, miso, food supplements, human recombinant laminin and cat litter will be examined. Issues subject to a first discussion relate to fruit-vegetable preparations, bromelain, “Bittner Balsam” and cigars.

(d) Textiles Sector

The 95th meeting of the Textiles Sector of the Nomenclature Committee was held on 15-16 October 2012. The report from that meeting has recently been issued. This report shows that opinions were issued on draft classification regulations on garlands with artificial textile flowers and a protective sleeve of textiles. A draft classification placing paper cylinder holding components of cigarettes under heading 5601 was discussed and supported by the majority of Member States present.

Other issues that were examined included CN wording clarifications for graduated compression hosiery and classification options for custom-made textile armchair or sofa covers. First discussions were also held on classification issues relating to tent roofs, jewellery boxes and ticks for downs or feathers. Finally, there was agreement among the Committee members that shoes with embedded GSP-tracking devices should be classified as footwear.