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Earlier, directors of LAPADA, the Association of Art and Antique Dealers, and VNAG, Vereniging Nederlands Antiquairs Genootschap, met to sign the agreement of formal co-operation, which will see them adopt a joint Code of Practice as well as sharing a range of benefits and interests. The agreement was likened to an engagement, with the possibility of closer links – or a marriage – for the future.

The Ambassador spoke of the close relationship between the British and Dutch trade, emphasising the importance of support and co-operation. Lord Howe, chairman of LAPADA, noted the number of people involved in the art and antiques trade and associated businesses across Europe – 136,000 – and underlined the close links that already exist between the Dutch and British, with the latter fielding more dealers at the world-beating Maastricht fair than any other country.

VNAG chairman Chris van Megchelen focused on how the two associations complemented each other, arguing that LAPADA, with their 750-plus members, brought professionalism and experience in lobbying to the partnership while VNAG’s 80 members were possibly more experienced in dealing with more varied and challenging competition in business.

Both associations intend to address a number of issues, particularly at European level, such as those to do with legislation and regulation.