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A long-running trade dispute between the US and China has led to import tariffs being placed on a range of goods.

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These include paintings, drawings, sculptures and antiques over 100 years old. “We should all be grateful for Christie’s efforts,” said Peter Tompa, the Washington DC-based lawyer who is acting for US cultural bodies in opposing the tax on Chinese art and antiquities. “More power to them for doing this.”

As part of a 20-month long trade war with China, certain Chinese goods including art are taxed at 15% on entry to the US, regardless of the port of origin.

Significant loss

Christie’s said the tax will result in “a significant loss” to its US business and “severely damage the US art market as a whole” in its filing to US trade administrators. Criteria for exemption include goods deemed as being available only from China, and whether the tariff would “cause severe economic harm” to the company applying or the market it operates in. In its application, Christie’s argues that import tariffs on the seven categories would cause a “drying up [of] any ability to purchase Chinese artworks outside the US”.

Apple is the most high-profile company to have succeeded in getting exemptions, for parts its imports to build computers.

Earlier this month there were signs of a thaw in the trade war as a ‘phase one’ trade deal was close to being finalised.

Both sides agreed to a phased lifting of some tariffs, including those on clothing and flat screen monitors.