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The US Trade Representative issued a list of items that will not be effected by the new import tax on Chinese goods. Capitol Hill image: Kevin McCoy via Wikimedia Commons.

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Lobbying from the art trade – dealers, auctioneers and trade bodies in the UK as well as the US – made the case for art and antiques to be removed from the tariff list of some 6000 products, in time for the autumn season of events.

A spokesperson for Christie’s, one of the auction houses that lobbied the US Trade Representative (USTR), said the firm was “pleased that our statement concerning proposed US tariff increases was considered and had an impact”.

New York-based Chinese works of art dealer James Lally of JJ Lally & Co had organised responses from US dealers to the proposed tariff. Christie’s, alongside Sotheby’s, trade bodies CINOA and BADA as well as dealership Marchant, were among those who provided written testimony.

‘Encouraging news’

Asian art dealer John Eskenazi, a director of the Committee for Cultural Policy in the US, told ATG: “We’ve only had bad news from the establishment, around issues such as ivory and antiquities. This news is helpful and encouraging. Our people in Washington – Jim Lally and others – seem to have helped this situation.”

Floris van der Ven, managing director of Vanderven Oriental Art who will show at TEFAF New York Fall, said: “This is a positive outcome… and we hope this settles the situation once and for all. This will ensure the Chinese art market in the US stays as vigorous as it always has been.”

“If logic prevails, the tariff will not be reintroduced”

Art and antiques originally created in China but exported from any port in the world were destined to be taxed, along with other Chinese products.

The 10% tariff on $200bn (£152bn) of Chinese goods, was due to be introduced by the Trump administration this week, rising to 25% in 2019.

The US administration’s revised list, issued on Monday, September 17, dropped art and antiques alongside 297 other categories.

In a statement, the USTR said it had “engaged in a thorough process to rigorously examine the comments and testimony and, as a result, determined to fully or partially remove 297 tariff lines from the original proposed list”.

Concerns that Trump might re-introduce art and antiques onto the list in future, after China introduced tariffs on $60bn worth of US imports in retaliation, were played down by experts.

‘Wise to reject’

US lawyer Kate Fitz Gibbon at Fitz Gibbon Law and a director of the Committee for Cultural Policy, said: “If logic prevails, the tariff will not be reintroduced. China has sought – and received – import restrictions from the US on Chinese antiques since 2009. The USTR was wise to reject tariffs that would further harm US museum and collector interests.”

Lally added: “I do not see any reason that the decision to remove Chinese art and antiques from the US import tariffs list might be reconsidered in the foreseeable future.”

Additional reporting by Frances Allitt