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As ATG always advise, the figures reflect the value of goods moved rather than traded, but significant trends are likely to indicate emerging strengths and weaknesses across the markets.

It is possibly the weak dollar, for instance, that explains the drop by a third in overall antiques exports – antiques exports to the US fell by 42 per cent.

Weak dollar or not, the rise in movement of fine art, by almost ten per cent for exports and five for imports, probably reflects the ongoing art market boom.

Leaving out sculpture and prints, and looking just at pictures, the general upward swing is far more dramatic, possibly an indication of the dominant contemporary and modern art markets.

Russia has now overtaken Hong Kong as both a supplier of pictures to the UK and a destination for their export, quadrupling the 2006 figures.

China, which has already appeared in the top ten as a supplier of art and antiques to the UK from outside the EU, now nudges into the top ten as a destination for antiques, while Dubai has also raised its profile across the board.

Worthy of note, are the picture export figures for Georgia, India and Singapore, while South Africa continues to be a reliable if unspectacular trading partner.

And although Norway – the UK’s most significant non-EU local trading partner, has all but been squeezed out of its regular appearance across the tables by the rising power of the Eastern markets, it continues to make a valuable contribution to trading totals.

Other countries that appear to have a small but steady trading relationship with the UK include Turkey, Brazil, Mexico, Malaysia, Taiwan, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Belize.

By Ivan Macquisten