Foreign trade brings diversity, is this now at risk?

As we continue to deal with a pandemic, and more recently, in many countries, the threat of recession, one must wonder how the US-China Trade war will affect art?

Does it even matter? The USA is well known for having the freest systems of importing and exporting on the globe. But with the tariffs introduced, due to suspicions, including the stealing of intellectual property, China has responded by doing the same thing to America.

The way that tariffs apply to art depends on the artwork’s country of origin. For instance, for items made in China, a 10% tariff is applied. However, for items produced by a Chinese artist whereby the country of origin is a country other than China, then the tariff is not. A positive trading position for any artist living in any country except those within China and America, as this gives them the opportunity to have their work marketed. Of course, there is a loophole on which artists in both countries can capitalise, by making their work outside of said countries, or making sales outside of China and the USA.

Some would argue, that the implementation of this levy, nothing really changes for the buyer. Art, especially those sold at auctions and galleries, have always been pricey. Consumers frequenting these trading areas are already willing to pay the price. However, for young designers who are trying to get into the high-end global market, this becomes an obstacle. Not every artist has the money to spend on getting their work created in another country. Bear in mind, in addition to export duties and other costs, creatives must spend money on their tools, material, labour and living. In addition, a majority of the equipment that is used within the arts world are also expensive. This excludes having to rent a studio space as it is becoming more of a luxury for the elites. Most artists starting out opt to maintain a studio space within their own homes instead.

Add in the Tariff Issue, and further detrimental affects accrue toward artists based in China or America. Not only does this make it hard for them to sell work in either countries, it encourages intolerance against Chinese and American artists. By promoting a trade war, we diminish the opportunity for cultural exchange along with fewer gains in terms of finance. This is important in the art world, as without such a structure, the ability for cultural expression, by accessing a wide remit of markets and variety of expression becomes part of the struggle. Creativity thrives on the exchange of ideas, culture, and perception.

Another problem facing artists is the issue of over-seeing work that is produced in another country. Artists form an intimate relationship with the creation itself through the process of production. So a further question remains on how they can effectively manage and trust another person to make their art, whilst still considering it their own work?

Nonetheless, in the grand scheme of things. A trade war does not benefit anyone. Everyone loses out at the end. If art is to continue to thrive, there must be a compromise between the two major players. If there is anything, hope now lies in who gets elected as the next president of America. This could not only decide the future for America, but for the Art world as well.