CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 966971 AM
Mr. Ricardo V. Aguirre, Jr.
Burghart Shipping Co.
700 Rahway Ave.
Union, NJ 07083
Re: Glass Cobblestone Tile on Mesh Backing
Dear Mr. Aguirre:
This is in reference to your letter, dated November 18, 2003, requesting a binding classification ruling for glass cobblestone tile on mesh backing under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Your letter was forwarded to this office for a reply.
The merchandise consists of irregularly shaped flat glass tile on a mesh backing. The materials submitted state that the tiles vary in size from 1.5" x 1.25" to 3" x 1". However, the sample contains tiles of a width of less than one inch. The tiles are three-eighths of an inch thick. Each cobblestone tile is individually formed by dropping molten glass onto a flat surface and allowing the glass drop to solidify in whatever form they take. This manufacturing method does not involve pressing or molding. Each tile is glazed and mounted, with adhesive, on a mesh to form a sheet. Each sheet consists of an average of 43 tiles. The sheets are valued at between $3 and $5. Each tile is valued at less than 30 cents.
The sheets are purchased for application to walls and floors of bathrooms, kitchens, restaurants, etc. To install the cobblestone tile sheet, an adhesive is applied to the floor, wall or other surface and to the cobblestone sheet. The sheet is laid in place. Grout is spread around the tiles and allowed to dry.
What is the classification of the subject glass “cobblestone” tile on a mesh backing under the HTSUS?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Merchandise imported into the U.S. is classified under the HTSUS. Tariff classification is governed by the principles set forth in the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs) and, in the absence of special language or context that requires otherwise, by the Additional U.S. Rules of Interpretation. The GRIs and the Additional U.S. Rules of Interpretation are part of the HTSUS and are to be considered statutory provisions of law.
GRI 1 requires that classification be determined first according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative section or chapter notes and, unless otherwise required, according to the remaining GRIs taken in order. GRI 6 requires that the classification of goods in the subheadings of headings shall be determined according to the terms of those subheadings, any related subheading notes and mutatis mutandis, to the GRIs.
In interpreting the HTSUS, the Explanatory Notes (ENs) of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System may be utilized. The ENs, although not dispositive or legally binding, provide a commentary on the scope of each heading, and are (official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level) generally indicative of the proper interpretation of the HTSUS. See T.D. 8980, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127 (August 23, 1989).
The following HTSUS subheadings are relevant to the classification of this product:
7013 Glassware of a kind used for table, kitchen, toilet, office, indoor decoration or similar purposes (other than that of heading 7010 or 7018):
7013.99.40 Valued at not over $0.30 each
Valued over $3 each
Valued over $3 but not over $5 each
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Paving blocks, slabs, bricks, squares, tiles and other articles of pressed or molded glass, whether or not wired, of a kind used for building or construction purposes; glass cubes and other glass smallwares, whether or not on a backing, for mosaics or similar decorative purposes; leaded glass windows and the like; multicellular or foam glass in blocks, panels, plates, shells or similar forms:
Glass cubes and other glass smallwares, whether or not on a backing, for mosaics or similar decorative purposes
EN 70.13 states, in pertinent part, the following:
This heading covers the following types of articles, most of which are obtained by pressing or blowing in moulds:
(4) Glassware for indoor decoration and other glassware (including that for churches and the like), such as vases, ornamental fruit bowls, statuettes, fancy articles (animals, flowers, foliage, fruit, etc.), table- centres (other than those of heading 70.09), aquaria, incense burners, etc., and souvenirs bearing views.
[all emphasis in original.]
EN 70.16 states, in pertinent part, the following:
This heading covers a range of glass articles obtained by pressing or moulding (whether or not combined with blowing): they are chiefly used for covering roofs, cupolas or archways, but are also used, usually in conjunction with concrete, for slabbing the lining walls of cellars, basements, underground corridors, etc.
* * * * * *
The heading further includes:
(1) Mosaic cubes, generally coloured or with one surface gilded, and small glass rectangles and other flat shapes, whether or not silvered, used as a facing material for walls, furniture, etc. These articles remain classified here, whether or not on a paper, paperboard, textile fabric or other backing. The heading also includes small coloured glass fragments or chippings, usually of opal glass, which are inlaid in cement to produce ornamental designs on the facades of buildings.
[all emphasis in original.]
The terms of heading 7013, HTSUS, describe glassware of a kind used for indoor decoration. Although none of the articles listed in the ENs as examples of glassware for indoor decoration need to be mortared into place to complete the decoration, the terms of the heading do not appear to exclude the instant merchandise.
Heading 7016, HTSUS, the provision that includes glass cubes and other glass smallwares for decorative purposes, describes the instant merchandise. According to the terms, glass smallwares need not be manufactured of pressed or molded glass. The cobblestone tiles are not pressed or molded; they are on a backing and used as a decorative facing on walls and floors. However, the term "smallware" is undefined. Customs has seen pictures and samples of glass cubes used in mosaics which appear to be less than an inch cubed. The manufacturer of the instant merchandise also makes glass tile on a backing in 0.75" square, 1" square, 2" square and 1" x 2" sizes. In HQ 087914, dated November 23, 1990, we ruled that 0.75" glass squares on a paper backing were classified as "similar smallwares" in heading 7016, HTSUS.
The instant tiles, are generally larger than the merchandise listed above. However, they are much smaller than typical 3" x 6" subway tile or 4" x 4" bathroom tile. Indeed, in NY A82907, dated May 15, 1996, we found that square glass mosaic tiles of varying sizes on a paper backing measuring up to 1.5" square were classified in subheading 7016.10.00, HTSUS.
Furthermore, in HQ 959404, dated July 21, 1997, we reiterated that "smallwares do not have a definite size limitation" and defended our position that all marbles, by virtue of their shape and useage are considered "smallwares" as the term is used in heading 7018, HTSUS, the provision for "glass beads, . . . and similar glass smallwares." Hence, we find that we cannot exclude the instant merchandise from consideration for classification in heading 7016, HTSUS, on the basis of its size.
Therefore, we must decide which heading is more specific under GRI 3(a). We find that the terms of heading 7016, HTSUS, more specifically describe this decorative glass facing material as a glass smallware on a backing than do the terms of heading 7013, HTSUS.
The glass “cobblestone” tile on mesh backing is classified in subheading 7016.10.00, HTSUS, the provision for “Paving blocks, slabs, bricks, squares, tiles and other articles of pressed or molded glass whether or not wired, of a kind used for building or construction purposes; glass cubes and other glass smallwares, whether or not on a backing, for mosaics or similar decorative purposes; leaded glass windows and the like; multicellular or foam glass in blocks, panels, plates, shells or similar forms: Glass cubes and other glass smallwares, whether or not on a backing, for mosaics or similar decorative purposes.”
Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial Rulings Division