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HQ 084072

May 3, 1989

CLA-2:CO:R:C:G 084072 SR


TARIFF NO.: 6810.19.10

Mr. David Serko
Serko & Simon
One World Trade Center
Suite 3371
New York, New York 10048

RE: Reconsideration of NYRL 824848 concerning agglomerated marble

Dear Mr. Serko:

This is in reference to your request for reconsideration of NYRL 824848, dated October 2, 1989. Your request concerns only the tariff classification of agglomerate marble under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).


The merchandise at issue is tiles consisting of natural marble granules and pieces bound with a polyester resin. To produce these tiles, chips and pieces of marble are reduced in size by milling. After milling, the marble is graded by size and type and blended in batches which yield a finished agglomerate of the desired color and texture. The marble is then thoroughly wetted with resin, and the resulting slurry is molded into a block. The marble-resin mixture is placed into a rotating vacuum chamber to assure uniform distribution of the marble and eliminate air bubbles. This process produces the appearance of brecciated marble. The marble block is then allowed to cure. From this point on the marble agglomerate is processed by sawing the blocks down to tile size pieces and polishing.


Whether the merchandise at issue should be classified as marble or artificial stone.


For purposes of Chapter 68 of the HTSUSA, if an artificial binding is added to natural marble, the marble is no longer considered to be natural but is considered artificial stone. The Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized System (HS) provide the official interpretation of the tariff schedule at the international level. The Explanatory Notes for heading 68.02 state: "Articles such as slabs, tiles, etc., obtained by agglomerating pieces of natural stone with cement or other binders (e.g., plastics), . . . are classifiable as artificial stone articles in heading 68.10."

It is stated in the Explanatory Notes to heading 68.10, HS, that "[A]rtificial stone is an imitation of natural stone obtained by agglomerating pieces of natural stone or crushed or powdered natural stone (limestone, marble, granite, porphyry, serpentine, etc.) with lime or cement or other binders (e.g., plastics). Articles of artificial stone include those of "terrazzo", "granito", etc."

The importer claims that the merchandise at issue cannot be classified under heading 68.10, HTSUSA, because it is not the same as terrazzo. We believe that the tiles at issue are similar to terrazzo. The only difference is the agglomerated marble tiles use a plastic binder, and the terrazzo uses a cement binder. The importer also feels that the merchandise cannot be classified under subheading 6810.19.10, HTSUSA, because of the opening sentence of the Explanatory Note to heading 68.10, HS. The sentence reads:

This heading covers moulded, pressed or centrifuged articles (e.g., certain pipes) of cement (including slag cement), of concrete or of artificial stone, other than those of heading 68.06 or 68.08 (in which cement is merely a binder), or heading 68.11 (articles of asbestos-cement).

The importer states that because the merchandise at issue is not made by moulding, pressing, or centrifuging, it is not covered by Heading 68.10. We are of the opinion that when the marble chips and marble dust are mixed with a resin in a large mold to form the marble block this is considered a moulding process.

According to the above mentioned Explanatory Notes the merchandise at issue is classifiable under subheading 6810.19.10, HTSUSA, which provides for "[A]rticles of cement, of concrete or of artificial stone, whether or not reinforced: Tiles, flagstones, bricks and similar articles: Other: Floor and wall tiles." This subheading has a duty rate of 21 percent ad valorem.

Under the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS), agglomerate marble was classified according to chief value and carried a low rate of duty. The importer claims that classification under subheading 6810.19.10, HTSUSA, is incorrect because the HTSUSA was to remain duty neutral to the TSUS, and because other countries are classifying the item under provisions of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System which carry a lower rate of duty.

In the course of developing the conversion of the TSUS to the HTSUSA, efforts were made to avoid tariff rate changes to the extent practicable and to simplify the tariff where possible without rate changes significant for U.S. industry, workers, or trade. Hearings were held under the direction of the Office of the United States Trade Representative, and negotiations were held among GATT partners to work out compensation for duty changes where necessary. It was not possible to develop the conversion without any changes at all. The HTSUSA is a new statute; it groups articles in different ways from the TSUS in some cases; and it uses different rules of classification. In applying the HTSUSA, the Customs Service must follow the terms of the statute. As to the classification of marble in other countries, the U.S. Government is not bound by the decisions of other governments.


The merchandise at issue is classifiable under subheading 6810.19.10, HTSUSA, which provides for "[A]rticles of cement, of concrete or of artificial stone, whether or not reinforced: Tiles, flagstones, bricks and similar articles: Other: Floor and wall tiles." The rate of duty is 21 percent ad valorem. NYRL 824848 is affirmed.


John Durant, Director

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