Home Arts & Leisure Christie’s seeks relief from Donald Trump’s ‘punishing’ tariffs on art
Christie’s seeks relief from Donald Trump’s ‘punishing’ tariffs on art
CHRISTIE’S was among the first companies to file for relief from the latest round of President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports, arguing the duties would hurt its business and punish the US art market.
The auction house is seeking exclusions from 15% duties on seven types of artworks and antiques, including paintings, drawings, original sculptures, engravings, prints, and antique furniture more than 100 years old, according to filings last Thursday. Christie’s said the tariffs would result in “a significant loss” to its US business by making it impossible to import the items.
“It also will severely impact the US art market as a whole, drying up any ability to purchase Chinese artworks outside of the United States,” Christie’s said in the filings. “Punishing the US art market in this manner flies in the face of an important American value of support for the art world.”
The Office of the US Trade Representative started accepting requests Thursday through Jan. 31 for exclusions from tariffs that took effect Sept. 1 on about $110 billion in Chinese imports as Trump seeks to negotiate a trade deal with China. Duties are also in effect on $250 billion in other Chinese goods, and a separate batch of about $160 billion in products — including laptops and mobile phones — is set to be hit with tariffs on Dec. 15 if a deal isn’t struck.
Trump is seeking to sign a “phase one” agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping in November, though Chinese officials are casting doubts about reaching a comprehensive long-term trade deal.
Exclusion decisions are based on whether a product is available only from China, is strategically important or related to Chinese industrial programs, and whether duties will “cause severe economic harm” to the company or US interests.
While items produced by Chinese artists are available in other countries, the tariffs apply to all goods created in China, Christie’s said in the filings. Chinese art in the US isn’t sufficient to meet demand, and Christie’s said it sources one-of-a-kind Chinese items for its US-based clients because of the high demand.
“Rather than hurting China, this tariff will help the art market in China and elsewhere by incentivizing collectors to sell their Chinese artworks outside of the US,” Christie’s said.
Art dealers, collectors, and museums previously sought to have Chinese art and antiquities spared from duties. Critics said the tariffs would discourage private collectors and dealers from acquiring Chinese art and cultural items, and because museums rely on donations, they and the viewing public would suffer. They also questioned the effectiveness of trying to spur US production or change China’s trade behavior by targeting art.
China is the world’s No. 3 art market, accounting for 19% of sales by value, behind the US at 44% and the UK at 21%, according to the Art Market 2019 report from Art Basel and UBS Group AG. Sales in the global art market reached $67.4 billion in 2018, up 6% from the previous year, according to the report. — Bloomberg