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HQ 960620

August 26, 1997

CLA-2 RR:TC:MM 960620 HMC


TARIFF NO.: 7013.39.20

David M. Murphy, Esq.
Grunfeld, Desiderio,
Lebowitz & Silverman LLP
245 Park Avenue
33rd Floor
New York, NY 10167-3397

RE: Silver-Plated Cake Plate with Server; Subheadings 7013.39.20 and 7323.99.10; GRI 3(b); Explanatory Notes (VIII) and (X) to GRI 3(b); Explanatory Note 70.13; Other Glassware of the Kind Used for Table, Office, Indoor Decoration or Similar Purposes; Other Table, Kitchen or Other Household Articles of Iron or Steel; HQ 955932.

Dear Mr. Murphy:

This is in response to your letter to the Customs National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, dated May 23, 1997, on behalf of Syratech Corporation, regarding the tariff classification of the International Silver Company's "Silver-Plated Cake Plate with Server" (cake serving set) under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Your letter, together with the sample, was forwarded to this office for a reply.


The sample submitted is a cake serving set, item 99113518, consisting of a round glass cake plate, 12.75 inches in diameter, attached to a silver-plated steel base, and a silver-plated steel trowel. The articles are packaged together in a specially printed box. The box depicts the glass cake plate with the trowel on top of the plate and a slice of cake right next to the trowel.

The provisions under consideration are as follows:

7013 Glassware of a kind used for table, kitchen, toilet, office, indoor decoration or similar purposes (other than that of heading 7010 or 7018):
Glassware of a kind used for table
(other than drinking glasses) or kitchen purposes other than that of glass-ceramics:

7013.39 Other:
7013.39.20 Valued not over $3 each...27.8%

7323 Table, kitchen or other household articles and parts thereof, or iron or steel; iron or steel wool; pot scourers and scouring or polishing pads, gloves and the like, of iron or steel:

7323.99 Other:
Coated or plated with precious metal:
7323.99.10 Coated or plated with silver...1.6%


Whether the silver-plated cake plate and server are classifiable as a set under subheading 7013.39.20, HTSUS.


Merchandise is classifiable under the HTSUS in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 states in part that for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6.

You contend that the merchandise is appropriately classified under subheading 7323.99.10, HTSUS, on the premise that the items constitute a set and that the essential character of the set is imparted by the silver-plated base and trowel. You claim that the silver-plated server and the plate's base are described in heading 7323, HTSUS, and that the glass plate is described in heading 7013, HTSUS.

GRI 3(a) states that when, by application of rule 2(b) or for any other reason, goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, the heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description. However, when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods or to part only of the items in a set put up for retail sale, those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description of the goods.

GRI 3(b) states that mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable. Since the subject goods consist of various items sold together as a set, we must first determine if for tariff purposes it is a set put up for retail sale as defined by GRI 3(b).

The Harmonized Commodity Description And Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized system. While not legally binding on the contracting parties, and therefore not dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System and are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of merchandise under the System. Customs believes the Notes should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

Explanatory Note (X) to GRI 3(b), at page 5, states that the term "goods put up in sets for retail sale" shall be taken to mean goods which:

(a) consist of at least two different articles which are, prima facie, classifiable in different headings.

(b) consist of products or articles put up together to meet a particular need or carry out a specific activity; and

(c) are put up in a manner suitable for sale directly to users without repacking (e.g., in boxes or cases or on boards).

In this instance, we agree with your contention that the cake serving set qualifies as a set of GRI 3(b). The articles are, prima facie, classifiable in different headings. Also, the glass plate and server are designed to be used together to carry out the specific activity of serving cake; and, they are put up in a manner suitable for sale directly to users without repacking. Accordingly, we must determine whether the steel silver-plated items or the glass plate imparts the essential character to the set.

In general, essential character has been construed to mean that attribute which strongly marks or serves to distinguish what an article is; that which is indispensable to the structure, core or condition of the article. In addition, EN (VIII) to GRI 3(b), at page 4, states that the factor which help determine essential character will vary as between different kinds of goods. It may, for example, be determined by the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

You contend that the essential character is imparted by the steel silver-plated articles. We disagree. We believe that, in this instance, the glass plate imparts the essential character. Although the silver-plated server is valued higher than the cake plate, it is the role of the constituent material that is the determining factor here. The glass plate is the most visually and structurally significant component of the set. Also, the plate is the article in the set that would be used to hold a cake and from where a cake would be served. Thus, the plate would perform the main function of serving cake. As such, it would be the indispensable article in the set, the base and the trowel simply assisting in the serving function. Based on GRI 3(b), we find that the cake plate set is classifiable as if consisting only of the glass plate.

As you suggested, the glass plate is described in heading 7013, HTSUS, which provides for glassware of the kind used for table, kitchen, toilet, office, indoor decoration or similar purposes. EN 70.13 states that heading 7013, HTSUS, covers table or kitchen glassware. It further states that articles of glass combined with other materials (base metal, wood, etc.), are classified in this heading only if the glass gives the whole the character of glass articles. Precious metal or metal clad with precious metal may be present, as minor trimmings only; articles in which such metals constitute more than mere trimmings are excluded (heading 71.14).

In this instance, we believe that the cake serving set will be principally used for table or kitchen purposes. See Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(a). Also, as explained above, we believe that the essential character is imparted by the glass plate, irrespective of the silver-plated articles.

We note that the silver-plated base is attached to the glass plate and that they are inseparable. We thus find that the glass plate and the base constitute a composite good of GRI 3(b) and that it is the glass plate that gives the whole the character of a glass article. Moreover, we find that the silver-plating of the cake plate is not precious metal nor metal clad with precious metal. See HQ 955932, dated June 29, 1994, for a similar finding. We conclude that the cake serving set is provided in heading 7013, HTSUS. Since no evidence was provided that the glass plate is of lead crystal as defined in Subheading Note 1 to Chapter 70, HTSUS, we believe the cake serving set is classifiable under subheading 7013.39.20, HTSUS.


Under the authority of GRI 3(b), the "Silver-Plated Cake Plate with Server," item 99113518, is properly classified under subheading 7013.39.20, HTSUS, as "glassware of a kind used for table (other than drinking glasses) or kitchen purposes other than of glass-ceramics: Other: Other: Valued not over $3 each." The rate of duty is 27.8% ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Tariff Classification Appeals Division

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