Information exchange meeting on the export and import of cultural goods

The Dutch government and The European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF) joined forces to advance the prevention of illicit trade in cultural goods by reaching out to embassies to inform them of current procedures regarding the import and export of cultural goods. Embassies welcomed the opportunity to ask questions and suggest ways of strengthening cooperation on this issue.

On 8 November 2018 an information meeting was held for the embassies of non-EU countries that have implemented the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property or are working to do so. The meeting was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. Representatives of TEFAF spoke at the event. Other speakers included representatives of the police, the customs authorities, the Public Prosecution Service and the Cultural Heritage Inspectorate.

The meeting reflected two priorities of the Dutch government: international cultural policy and corporate social responsibility, which is as important in the art trade as in any other sector.   

Works of arts, antiques and other cultural goods can contribute significantly to people’s cultural identity and historical awareness, making them indispensable and irreplaceable. It is therefore of the utmost importance that we ensure that such items, which are part of a country’s protected cultural heritage, cannot be sold or removed from their country of origin illegally.

Due diligence and transparency are crucial business practices in the art trade. Granted, establishing the origin of certain goods can be difficult. The difficulty is compounded further by the growth of online trading. However, this does not relieve us of the responsibility to help secure cultural heritage for the people to whom it belongs.

TEFAF works closely with exhibitors, art dealers and the relevant authorities to make sure that the necessary procedures are in place so that action can be taken when suspicious goods are discovered at the art fair. TEFAF is also committed to promoting due diligence and transparency on the art market. A responsible art market starts with knowing the client and increasing transparency within the value chain.

The documents discussed in the presentations will be available on the website of the Cultural Heritage Inspectorate soon.