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The international export of collectables, art and antiques was the fastest-growing export sector in 2019.

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The latest figures from The Institute of Export & International Trade reveal collectables, art and antiques is the fastest-growing export sector in 2019, rising 72% year-on-year.

Marco Forgione, former BADA CEO and now director general at The Institute of Export & International Trade, told ATG the long-term outlook for the trade is positive.

“We should be optimistic this sector will rebound,” he said. “Dealers and auction houses should be looking to how they can reshape their businesses to engage digitally while we wait for a recovery of the more traditional fairs and markets.

“The UK government’s interest, post lockdown and post the end of the transition period, will be international trade as the fuel for growth.”

Forgione said he would encourage anyone in the trade to “improve their skills and knowledge of international trade, remembering that after December 31 the EU will be an international market and covered by international customs requirements”.

He said anyone wanting to take this time in lockdown to train and acquire skills and knowledge in customs procedures will be eligible for a government grant.

Exports of collector items, art and antiques reached $12.3bn (£9.9bn) in 2019 and was placed 10th in a table of leading export sectors. Collectively, the top 10 sectors represent 70% of all UK exports. The export figure includes items sent to fairs that may not sell, as well as items from museums going out on loan to overseas exhibitions.

The value of traded goods is reflected in the net exporter total (exports minus imports), which reached US$9.2bn (£7.4bn) in 2019. Using this figure, the collector items, art and antiques was in percentage terms the largest of all net exporters.

Read about how the cornavirus is currently impacting exports of art and antiques.