Tuesday, October 27, 2020

This is no Time to Expand Restrictions; It is time to Facilitate Lawful Trade and Encourage Archaeologists to do Their Part

This is what I said more or less at today's CPAC hearing.  I hope to summarize the public session to discuss a proposed MOU with Nigeria and proposed renewals with Greece and Bolivia shortly.

Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you on behalf of the Global Heritage Alliance.  I also drafted comments on behalf of IAPN and PNG, so feel free to refer any detailed questions about those papers to me.

First, as to the proposed renewal of the Greek MOU, we would echo IAPN’s and PNG’s concerns that this renewal is no excuse to expand current import restrictions.  Those restrictions purport to only apply to coin types that circulated locally in Greece in order to comply with the statutory requirements found in 19 U.S.C. § 2601.  That provision requires that such coins were “first discovered within” and are therefore subject to Greek export controls.  Under no circumstances should CPAC recommend expanding those restrictions to widely circulating trade coins which can be found most anywhere.  Those coins can be found in many countries, including ones with no MOU with the U.S.

CPAC already considered the issue in 2010, and rejected the proponent’s request to expand current restrictions further when the MOU was renewed in 2016.  There is simply no reason to revisit this decision, particularly when much of the coin trade is already being badly hurt by Covid related shut downs of coin shows.  Indeed to do so would not only be contrary to the statutory requirements, but the words of Greece’s Ambassador who back in 2010 stated that Greece’s request only concerned “antiquities that have been found exclusively on Greek territory.”

 Second, CPAC should also promote the lawful exchange of cultural artifacts. In particular, CPAC should recognize the obvious ramifications of Greece’s membership in the European Union (“E.U.”). Coins on the current designated list may be traded outside the E.U. with or without an export license according to the local law of Greece’s sister E.U. members. CPAC, the State Department and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) should honor these E.U. export controls, which, after all, are also binding on Greece as an E.U. member.

 Finally, with regard to both Greece and Bolivia, we would urge that archaeologists be asked to do their own part too.  CPAC should amend MOU Art. II to ensure archaeological missions pay diggers a fair living wage and that they be required to file site security plans which take advantage of modern electronic surveillance technology.  Both steps can be seen as “self-help measures” or “less drastic remedies” than import restrictions under 19 U.S.C. § 2602 (1) (B) and (C) (ii).

 Thank you.

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