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Old 3rd January 2020, 05:52 PM   #1
vilhelmsson
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Default US Import Duties on Chinese Antiques

I received the nice New Year's surprise of a surprisingly large import duty on an antique Chinese sword this morning.

When I called DHL, the duty/tax rep reviewed my paperwork and said, "Sir, we are in a trade war with China."

Just a tip, if you're in the US and importing a Chinese 100+ year old antique from out of the country, even if it's not being imported from China (say, the UK), be prepared for a roughly 15% import duty.

This might, of course, be lowered within the next few weeks if the end of the trade war truly is nigh.
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Old 3rd January 2020, 10:24 PM   #2
Lee
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I would think, if the item is coming from the UK, then the China trade sanctions would not be applicable and the EU sanctions should not involve this type of item. Was the item imported as 9705.00.00.70 (ethnographic artifact which should be duty free) or an antique. There will be clearance fees from freight companies' customs brokers and maybe an inspection fee, but I wonder if you have been overcharged in error and perhaps you should give a call to US customs (https://www.cbp.gov/) and find out if you were correctly charged.

Last edited by Lee : 3rd January 2020 at 10:46 PM.
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Old 3rd January 2020, 10:30 PM   #3
Mel H
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Is it possible to export genuine antique items from China?
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Old 3rd January 2020, 10:48 PM   #4
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I imagine some sort of hard to get license would be required to legally send such a thing out of China, but there are a lot of great items that have been in Europe for decades, if not centuries and before the existence of the People's Republic.
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Old 4th January 2020, 03:12 AM   #5
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Dear Lee,

I had thought it might be in error. E.g., maybe the shipper neglected to include proper attestations as to the age of the artifact.

DHL kindly challenged the duty on my behalf. Actually a quick and easy process, and an option if anybody wants to challenge a duty. But CBP's policy is that if the object's origin was within the modern geographic bounds of China, even if it was manufactured 2,000 years ago, then it is subject to the duty!

I understand the reason: one could just circumvent the tariffs by shipping from China to an intermediary country. But I'm not sure what punitive or protectionist purpose a tariff on antiques serves? Maybe it puts a dent in the import of "antique" Chinese swords ordered on Alibaba or Taobao?

The article below provides some interesting commentary. A lobbying group representing museums and dealers tried to argue that, if anything, tariffs on antiques help China because they stifle the US art market and make it easier for China to repatriate artifacts.
https://news.artnet.com/market/chin...-tariff-1625869

Mel H,

I think it's tough. Either to get permission or to find something genuine in mainland China.
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Old 23rd January 2020, 09:51 AM   #6
Peter Dekker
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Some notes on China:

Officially, "cultural heritage" cannot be exported outside of China. But, as is the case in more national and international regulations regarding antiques, it is not very clear what "cultural heritage" is.

Surely, the customs officers do not know so there have been cases of tourist curios being confiscated out of fear they were antiques, and genuine antiques passed through because they were not thought of as important items by whoever was in charge that day.

Over the whole, Chinese dealers have long been able to export arms and armor because nobody cared about them. Regulations are tightening now, not to preserve them, but because regulations on shipping weapons in general are being tightened in China.

Over the whole, in dealing with Chinese arms I have found the best pieces have been out of China for a long time. If you find something in China it is either priced very high as there is a strong local demand for them, or they are of very bad quality and condition and better pieces can be had in Europe of the USA for less, given time and patience.
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