International Trade Agreements

The notion of a cultural exception emerged in the context of the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) negotiations in 1993, when  France pleaded in favour of an exemption for cultural goods and services. UNESCO explains that issue  was raised again in the final negotiations of the Uruguay Round, when some countries expressed concern that enforcement of the GATT principles - in particular Most Favoured Nation and national treatment rules – on goods and services as well as on copyright protected products would undermine their cultural specificity (and unique status), in favour of their commercial aspects. Indeed, quite often cultural industries (film and audiovisual ones in particular) survive due to import restrictions and other support mechanisms facilitated by certain public administrations, which consider it a priority to preserve domestic cultural industries. If subject only to commercial considerations, many local cultural industries would be quickly replaced by those with greater financial muscle due to their multinational presence and monopoly position. FIA strongly upholds this position and regularly advocates for the exemption of cultural goods and industries for international trade agreements.