Tuesday - 02 September 2014

Figures show fall in UK imports as importance of trade with Russia grows

25 March 2014Written by Ivan Macquisten

A sharp decline in the movement of fine art between the UK and its main trading partners in the US and Switzerland is the starkest feature of the latest set of import and export figures.

The decline in UK fine art exports for 2013 has been partially offset by large increases in cross-border trade with Hong Kong and Russia, as well as a healthy rise in exports of antiques. Overall, exports were down 3.5% at £4.31bn.

In total, imports have declined by nearly 30% at £3.34bn, with only a significant increase from Japan going some way to mitigating large falls in fine art imports from the US and the two great entrepôt centres of Switzerland and Hong Kong.

As our results tables show below, the total movement of art and antiques to and from mainland China has dropped markedly from 2012; although exports of antiques there are marginally up at £15.1m, this has to be set against what had been a 60% year-on-year decline 12 months before.

Otherwise antiques imports from China have fallen by more than 80%, while it no longer features in the top ten trading partners for picture imports, even with an overall decline in that sector.

When it comes to Hong Kong traffic, the message seems to be that it is increasingly one way, with exports of antiques there up by more than 50% and pictures by more than 30%. Although antiques imports from Hong Kong are also up by 88%, picture imports have dropped by more than 40%.

Exports to Russia

The most dramatic development has been the almost 12 times increase in antiques exports to Russia, which stand at £108m for 2013, putting it third after the US and Switzerland in importance. And Russia is fourth after the US, Switzerland and Hong Kong for picture exports, up by more than 130% at £88.9m. It will be interesting to see how these figures change in the wake of the current political crisis, where the UK government is already talking about trade sanctions over Crimea.

As we always caution, the HMRC trade figures reflect the value of goods moved across borders, not of actual sales, although history shows that there is a close correlation between the two and the import/export figures are useful for indicating changing trends.

It is no surprise that one of the most significant trends of recent years has been the growing importance of Middle and Far Eastern markets to British trade.

However, the figures also show that a single super-wealthy buyer can influence results, most notably Qatar, whose Royal family appear to have been more focused on pictures than objects in 2013.

 

UK Art and Antiques Global Trade Figures for 2013

Figures in brackets show the percentage relationship with the previous year

 

Exports 2013

ANTIQUES (objects over 100 years old): £771.0m (+28.0%)

FINE ART (pictures, prints, sculpture, any age): £3540.3m (-8.4%)

TOTAL EXPORTS: £4311.3m (-3.5%)

 

Imports 2013

ANTIQUES (objects over 100 years old): £438.5m (-10.1%)

FINE ART (pictures, prints, sculpture, any age): £2898.1m (-30.7%)

TOTAL IMPORTS: £3336.6m (-28.5%)

 

 

ATG Trade Figures - non-EU Countries

 

Exports 2013

ANTIQUES (objects over 100 years old): £756.1m (+28.3%)

FINE ART (pictures, prints, sculpture, any age): £3424.8m (-8.3%)

TOTAL EXPORTS: £4180.9m (-3.3%)

 

UK EXPORTS OF ANTIQUES TO:

USA: £326.9m (+20.4%)

Hong Kong: £133.6m (+52.7%)

Russia: £108.5m (+1161.6%)

Switzerland: £92.2m (-5.2%)

Qatar: £16.0m (-36.8%)

China: £15.1m (+4.9%)

Taiwan: £12.3m (-16.9%)

Japan: £9.5m (-1.0%)

Australia: £8.5m (-21.3%)

Canada: £6.6m (n/a)

 

UK EXPORTS OF PICTURES TO:

USA: £1372.9m (-14.2%)

Switzerland: £748.8m (-11.9%)

Hong Kong: £144.2m (+30.5%)

Russia: £88.9m (+131.5%)

Qatar: £36.9m (n/a)

Singapore: £32.2m (+10.3%)

Brazil: £25.9m (-9.8%)

UAE: £18.7m (n/a)

Turkey: £17.3m (-34.2%)

Philippines: £15.5m (n/a)

 

 

Imports 2013

ANTIQUES (objects over 100 years old): £380.7m (-17.1%)

FINE ART (pictures, prints, sculpture, any age): £2451.4m (-34.7%)

TOTAL IMPORTS: £2832.1m (-32.7%)

 

UK IMPORTS OF ANTIQUES FROM:

USA: £226.4m (-20.7%)

Switzerland: £71.5m (+52.8%)

Hong Kong: £38.0m (+88.1%)

China: £10.3m (-82.4%)

Israel: £7.9m (n/a)

Australia: £7.3m (+21.7%)

Russia: £5.5m (n/a)

Japan: £3.8m (-28.3%)

Syria: £1.9m (n/a)

Canada: £1.8m (-56.1%)

 

UK IMPORTS OF PICTURES FROM:

USA: £1124.6m (-32.3%)

Switzerland: £571.1m (-36.8%)

Japan: £63.5m (+81.9%)

Hong Kong: £61.8m (-41.2%)

Russia: £45.1m (-10.2%)

Singapore: £30.9m (n/a)

Australia: £19.7m (+10.7%)

Taiwan: £18.2m (n/a)

Brazil: £16.9m (+92.0%)

Qatar: £13.3m (n/a)

 

 

ATG Trade Figures - EU Countries

 

Exports 2013

ANTIQUES (objects over 100 years old): £14.9m (+12.0%)

FINE ART (pictures, prints, sculpture, any age): £115.5m (-12.6%)

TOTAL EXPORTS: £130.4m (-10.3%)

 

UK EXPORTS OF ANTIQUES TO:

Germany: £5.2m (+333.3%)

Italy: £2.7m (+68.7%)

Irish Republic: £2.5m (n/a)

France: £2.0m (-74.4%)

Malta: £0.8m (n/a)

 

UK EXPORTS OF PICTURES TO:

Germany: £14.4m (-32.4%)

Italy: £14.4m (-64.6%)

France: £8.5m (-44.8%)

Belgium: £6.3m (-7.3%)

Netherlands: £4.6m (-25.8%)

 

 

Imports 2013

ANTIQUES (objects over 100 years old): £57.8m (+102.1%)

FINE ART (pictures, prints, sculpture, any age): £446.7m (+4.3%)

TOTAL IMPORTS: £504.5m (+10.5%)

 

UK IMPORTS OF ANTIQUES FROM:

Netherlands: £26.2m (+50.6%)

France: £22.8m (+168.2%)

Irish Republic: £5.4m (+440.0%)

Germany: £1.2m (+100.0%)

Italy: £0.9m (n/a)

 

UK IMPORTS OF PICTURES FROM:

Netherlands: £197.1m (+11.3%)

Germany: £61.3m (-13.2%)

France: £49.0m (-49.5%)

Italy: £42.1m (+48.8%)

Belgium: £6.6m (+200.0%)

 

All the trade figures that appear on these pages are based on raw data from HMRC.

Analysis and comparisons by Antiques Trade Gazette for ATG Media © 2014

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