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Trade bodies say the snap general election called by Prime Minister Theresa May is a “significant opportunity” for the art and antiques industry to make its voice heard.

Ahead of the launch of new manifestos by the major political parties, associations are in direct contact with policy makers to outline key issues including quarterly reporting changes, ivory and Brexit concerns such as import and export taxes and licences.

The June 8 vote has been called to bring greater “certainty and stability” during the UK’s Brexit negotiations. But May is expected to use her new manifesto to water down or scrap a number of policies from the David Cameron era.

“The prime minister’s announcement provides the art and antique industry with a significant opportunity to have our voices heard and seek to influence the new government’s agenda and priorities for the next five years,” said Marco Forgione, chief executive of the British Antique Dealers’ Association (BADA), reacting to the election announcement.

He added: “We have the chance to ensure that all political parties recognise the value of the art and antiques industries.

“We can help ensure that, on issues as diverse as business rates, overseas trade and endangered species, the political parties develop manifesto commitments which are practical, support the government’s aims and don’t undermine the UK’s essential small businesses.”

Ivory focus

Helen Carless, chairman of The Society of Fine Art Auctioneers and Valuers (SOFAA), said its primary focus would be the ivory issue: “A change of government affords opportunities to re-examine policies. SOFAA hopes that rather than a complete ban on the sale of all ivory, we can continue to work with government to strengthen the policing of the existing laws which allow for the sale of pre-1947 ivory.”

The Conservative manifesto in 2015 pledged a total ban on the UK ivory trade.

Unaffected by the election plans, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said a consultation is due to be launched on the topic “in due course”.

The British Art Market Federation (BAMF) represents all trade associations in the sector and speaks directly to government. Its chairman Anthony Browne told ATG: “Whatever the outcome of the general election, we will continue to communicate the points that are of concern to all of our members.”

Rebecca Davies, chief executive of LAPADA, said it will continue to “actively represent our members’ interests to government”.

“In conjunction with BAMF, we will seek out opportunities and ensure that the best results are achieved on a range of business issues,” she said.