Luxury goods retailers must be cautious when exporting luxury goods, especially when they are leaving the EU. There are special rules applicable to exporting various types of goods, including in relation to 'luxury goods'. Such rules place restrictions on exports to certain countries and place a higher regulatory standard than for other types of goods.
Take diamonds for example. In order to export rough diamonds outside the EU, the exporter must obtain a Kimberley Certificate and attach it to the consignment. The potential consequence of non‑compliance is the seizure of the goods.
In another example, in order to export art, antiques and cultural goods, the exporter may require a licence depending on the age and value of the goods. Such goods may be covered by an open licence, or an individual licence may need to be obtained, depending on whether it meets certain criteria. Any licence may also be subject to strict conditions that the exporter must be in compliance with.
There is also an outright ban on supplying 'luxury goods' to North Korea or Syria deriving from the Export Control (North Korea Sanctions and Iran, Ivory Coast and Syria Amendment) Order 2017, and the Export Control (Syria Sanctions) Order 2013. In these Orders, there is an exhaustive list of what constitutes luxury goods. The banned goods include (but are not limited to): pure bred horses; truffles; pearls; precious and semi‑precious stones. The penalties are a criminal offence leading to a prison sentence and/or a fine.
The rationales behind such regulations are various, depending on the nature and destination of the proposed exports. It may be economic‑based, for example to prevent a drop in supply of goods in the domestic market because it is more profitable to export. It may also be as part of foreign policy, for example as a component of trade sanctions — the EU implements UN sanctions through its Council Decisions and Regulations, which then have effect in English Law. In the case of North Korea, the UN Security Council has deemed that the proceeds of its imported luxury goods sales are contributing to its nuclear missile and weapons of mass destruction programmes.
In summary, retailers should tread carefully when exporting luxury goods and be wary of applicable restrictions and prohibitions. However, even in cases of an 'absolute' prohibition, there may be licences granted after careful review on a case‑by‑case basis.