Thursday, March 14, 2013

The U.K.: A Major Cultural Property Supplier


Photo credit: Athewma
European nations accounted for ten of the top 20 sources of archaeological, historical, and ethnological material imported into the United States in 2012. And last year alone, the U.S. imported archaeological, historical, and ethnological material from the United Kingdom valued at $7,446,021, making the U.K. the second largest import supply nation of these kinds of cultural property (by customs value). That is according to data classified by Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) 9705.00.0070 and published by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Examining HTS 9705's broader trade category of "collections and collectors' pieces of zoological, botanical, mineralogical, anatomical, historical, archeological, paleontological, ethnographic or numismatic interest" reveals that the U.K. is the largest cultural property supplier to the U.S. of these types of goods. 

In fact, numbers compiled from the United Nations Statistics Division show that the U.K. is the world's premiere exporter by value of HTS 9705 property.  The most recent information available indicates that the U.K. exported HTS 9705 goods amounting to $155,020,581 in 2011. That is about equivalent to Dayton, Ohio's city budget.

Other large suppliers to the world include the U.S. ($113,099,923), Switzerland ($98,675,789), France ($71,241,772), Hong Kong ($70,835,291), Canada ($42,695,548), Netherlands ($27,677,428), South Africa ($18,882,248), Austria ($15,231,914), and Spain ($12,658,111). The U.K. outpaced the U.S. by nearly $42 million in additional exports, the approximate amount of Canada's exports.

The massive C-5 Galaxy. Photo credit: U.S.A.F. Tech. Sgt. Charlie Miller
Of particular note, the Netherlands zoomed well beyond other nations in terms of weight with 1,705,030 kilograms (3,761,152 pounds) of HTS 9705 exports. That is approximately the weight of ten massive C-5 Galaxy transport planes.

The U.K.'s export data should agree with the U.S.'s import data. Borrowing from an idea used by Raymond Fisman and Shang-Jin Wei of Columbia University and published in "The Smuggling of Art and the Art of Smuggling: Uncovering the Illicit Trade in Cultural Property and Antiques," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 2009, 1:3, 82-96, U.K. export data was compared with U.S. import data. It should be mentioned at the outset that, according to gov.uk, U.K. export numbers rely on commodity code 97050000, "collections and collectors' pieces of zoological, botanical, mineralogical, anatomical, historical, archeological, paleontological, ethnographic or numismatic interest." The classification is said to be the equivalent of Standard International Trade Classification (SITC) 896.50, defined as "Collections And Collectors' Pieces Of Zoological, Botanical, Mineralogical, Anatomical, Historical, Archaeological, Numismatic, Etc. Interest." Unfortunately, there is no further break down of the 9700000/896.50 export data into specific archaeological, historical, and ethnological objects. So it is not possible to directly compare HTS 9705.00.0070 imports into the U.S. with the exact numbers for U.K. exports. The best comparison that can be made is examining HTS 9705 imports to the U.S. and 97050000/SITC 896.50 exports from the U.K. The numbers do not match.

To reiterate, the U.S.'s HTS 9705 imports from the U.K. totaled over $38 million in 2012. But the U.K.'s equivalent exports totaled £47423291 or approximately $76,046,377, applying the currency exchange rate published on December 1, 2012. The export data come from HM Revenue and Customs, and the agency lists double the amount of America's recorded imports. The reason for this large discrepancy between the U.K's export numbers and the U.S.'s import numbers of the same goods needs to be studied further. The data nevertheless reinforce the notion that the U.K. is a preeminent exporter of HTS 9705 property. 

It is no surprise then that the U.K. takes first place on the U.S.'s 2012 top 20 list of HTS 9705 cultural property imports for consumption of collections and collectors' pieces of zoological, botanical, mineralogical, anatomical, historical, archeological, paleontological, ethnographic or numismatic interest, ranked by customs value and supplying nation. Other nations follow behind:

United Kingdom  $38,158,210 
Italy  $23,083,181
China  $19,364,785
Switzerland   $12,710,914
Canada  $10,279,170
Germany  $8,873,106
France   $7,661,173
Australia  $5,986,012
Spain   $5,957,395
Egypt  $5,746,759
Turkey  $4,919,196
Poland  $3,372,543
Greece  $3,127,905
South Africa  $2,671,704
Mexico  $1,775,560
India  $1,746,985
Israel  $1,499,005
Russia  $1,313,756
Netherlands  $1,285,472
Brazil  $952,324

This post is researched, written, and published on the blog Cultural Heritage Lawyer Rick St. Hilaire at culturalheritagelawyer.blogspot.com. Text copyrighted 2012 by Ricardo A. St. Hilaire, Attorney & Counselor at Law, PLLC. Any unauthorized reproduction or retransmission of this post is prohibited. CONTACT: www.culturalheritagelawyer.com