A ship owned by China Shipping Container Lines arriving in Felixstowe, England.

10 Percent Tariff on Chinese Art and Antiquities Will Take Effect September 1

As the trade war between the United States and China continues, President Trump announced on Tuesday that he plans to delay the implementation of a new tax on a variety of Chinese-made consumer goods, pushing it back from September to December. However, art and antiquities—including paintings, drawings, and sculptures—did not make the list and will be hit with a 10 percent tax beginning September 1.

“The US import tariff will apply to all Chinese art sourced anywhere in the world, not simply Chinese art imported from China,” New York–based dealer James Lally told the Art Newspaper. “[It] will act as a tax on all US collectors, curators, and dealers buying anywhere on the international market.” Peter Tompa, a lawyer at a Washington, DC–based firm, added that the tax will hurt small businesses in the art world more than it will hurt trade with China.

Many galleries are preparing for the hit their businesses may suffer once the tax takes effect. When Pace closed its Beijing branch last month, founder Arne Glimcher told Artnews, “It’s impossible to do business in mainland China right now and it has been for awhile.” Auction houses will also have to plan the best way to cope with the tax and may start advising international collectors to sell their Chinese artworks at locations outside of the US.

While the delay on several categories of imports such as tech products—laptop computers, video game consoles, and mobile phones—was introduced to make the holiday shopping season run smoothly and is the only concession Trump has made to date of the negative impact of tariffs on American consumers, a 25 percent tax has already been imposed on about $250 billion worth of goods from China since May.

“Everybody is just on this roller coaster, trying to stay one step ahead or keep up with this inconsistent, irrational trade policy that is coming out of the White House,” Jay Foreman, the chief executive of the toy manufacturer Basic Fun, which makes many of its products in China, told the New York Times. “It’s just a nightmare.”

[Update:]  A quote from Arne Glimcher has been added to this post.