I read with interest the last posting by Ian Butchoff who mentions the CITES requirements and all the practical problems one encounters with them. Last year when attending the Olympia Fine Art and Antique fair I had a few pieces of Ivory that I wanted to exhibit. I dutifully began theprocess of getting CITES certificates in order to ship them legally from Cape Town, South Africa to London. To say the least I learnt a lot and what has transpired has been a working document that I have now submitted to CINOA who are looking into raising this at the March 2013 CITES conference.
If a member of SAADA wants to export a piece that is made from species such as coral, ivory, both tortoise and turtle shell, Brazilian rosewood, certain types of mahogany, whale teeth and conch shells (no matter how small the component) a CITES permit is required. This permit covers antiques which are significantly altered from their natural state for jewellery, adornment, art, utility, or musical instruments, before 1st June 1947. The process for acquiring this permit is relatively straightforward if a bit time consuming. One needs to submit to the relevant authority a sworn statement including all relevant details as to origin, age, description and species concerned. This at present can be done by anyone, even those with no experience in being able to distinguish the difference between for example, bone and ivory. In South Africa once a payment of three hundred rand (approximately twenty eight Euros) has been made, the permit is issued.
The next step is to forward a copy of this permit to the shipper in the country to where the piece is being sent. They will then apply for an import permit at an additional cost. In the case study I used, the pieces were exported to the United Kingdom. Here DEFRA issued the relevant permit and the cost is forty seven pounds. Additionally once the export permit is issued the piece has to be submitted for inspection before export. This is usually done where the permit is issued or at a designated inspection point.
If the piece is then being shown on an antique fair or exhibition and is sold to a buyer from America the process then continues. Once again an export permit from the UK is required as well as an import permit for America. If the piece is unsold it can return to the country of origin only if the procedure is reversed and all permits are applied and paid for, again.
This example illustrates how cumbersome, expensive and inefficient the current process for antiques is. This permit system is the same as that used for the transport of live animals. A simpler system that covers antiques is needed. CITES currently does not have a permit that covers antiques alone so they fall under the above system.
My request is that CINOA approach CITES on an international level and try to negotiate a more efficient process. This should entail a single permit being issued in the country of origin that would cover its movement for a specified period irrespective of where it goes. Currently it is six months on the existing permit and this could be lengthened to a year. As for the sworn statements, SAADA in South Africa and other recognised CINOA affiliates in other countries should be able to furnish the required statement for members of the public who wish to ship their antiques and collectables. It would also be important to allow the distinction between the relevant elephant species to be consolidated as one. The current system requires that we distinguish between African and Asian elephants. In reality once ivory has been worked and incorporated into an antique it is nearly impossible to ascertain this difference. This would surely simplify the process and mean more compliance worldwide. It would also allow us to help control and guide our members and more importantly the general public for whom the current process is complex.
I have now submitted a letter to CINOA who are looking into raising this at the March 2013 CITES conference.
SOUTH AFRICAN ANTIQUE DEALERS ASSOCIATION