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A Comparative Analysis of the Chile-U.S. and Singapore-U.S. Free Trade Agreements

with Particular Reference to Their Impact in the Cultural Sector

The free trade agreements concluded by the United States with Chile in December 2002 and with Singapore in February 2003 mark a new development in the way the United States envisage the treatment of cultural goods and services in trade agreements. Up until 2000, the official position was that cultural products were not different from other products and therefore should not be distinguished in trade agreements from other products. A first indication that this position was open for revision appeared at the end of 2000 when the U.S. government, in a communication on audiovisual and related services to the WTO Council on Trade in services, emphasized that the audiovisual sector in 2000 was “significantly different from the audiovisual sector of the Uruguay Round period when negotiations focused primarily on film production, film distribution, and terrestrial broadcasting of audiovisual goods and services”, then went on to say that “[e]specially in light of the quantum increase in exhibition possibilities available in today's digital environment, it is quite possible to enhance one's cultural identity and to make trade in audiovisual service more transparent, predictable, and open”, and finally announced that they would «consider developing and understanding on subsides that will respect each nation’s need to foster its cultural identity by creating environment to nurture local culture.»

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Column by Mr. Ivan Bernier, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law at Université Laval in Québec City for Spotlight on Diversity, hosted by the Governmnet of Québec Secretariat for Cultural Diversity

Filed Under: Academic | English | Magazine Article