The Department of State published a proposal in the Federal Register on September 13 on extending import restrictions on certain cultural property from Peru.
The proposal would extend a memorandum of understanding between the government of the United States of America and the government of Peru (the US-Peru Memorandum), prohibiting certain Peruvian artwork, antiquities and cultural property from importation into the United States except in exceptional circumstances.
The US-Peru Memorandum was originally signed in June 1997 and has been extended four times, with the last extension occurring on June 7, 2017. Without extension, import restrictions owing to the US-Peru Memorandum will lapse on June 7, 2022. However, should the president determine that artwork and cultural antiquities from Peru continue to be in jeopardy of pillage despite Peru’s efforts to protect those items, he may again extend the memorandum for a period not to exceed five years. Importers beware, should the US-Peru Memorandum be extended, the list of items designated for restriction may also be amended to include new items. Importers should beware, though: the list of items designated for restriction has been amended on several occasions and extension of the US-Peru Memorandum presents an opportunity for another amendment.
The Federal Register notice implicates elements of the federal government's robust authority to restrict the importation of various pieces of cultural property. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) authority found at 19 U.S.C § 2606, sets out part of its mechanism for enforcing import restrictions on the type of cultural property implicated in the notice in the following manner:
- The foreign country must have an agreement with the United States to prohibit importations
- The agreement establishes a designated list of prohibited artwork, antiquities, and cultural property
- Without certification from the foreign government or other evidence that satisfies CBP that exportation of the cultural property was not in violation of the laws of the foreign government, the imported material will be subject to seizure and forfeiture.
A list identifying each of the 25 countries maintaining similar agreements enforceable under 19 U.S.C § 2606 and a general description of the artwork and cultural antiquities subject to restriction is provided at Title 19 of the Code of Federal Regulations (19 C.F.R. § 12.104g(a)). Where an importer cannot meet the conditions set forth in 19 U.S.C. § 2606 and 19 C.F.R. § 12.104(c), designated materials will be denied entry into the United States, and subsequently seized and forfeited to the government.