Although the relationship between trade and culture has been described as one of those new issues that pose “serious practical and theoretical challenges ... to present understanding of the trade regime,”1 trade conflicts concerning cultural goods and services are not in fact a new phenomenon. Such conflicts go back to the 1920’s when European countries, following the First World War, began resorting to screen quotas in order to protect their film industry from a sudden influx of American films that was perceived as a threat to their cultural expression.2 The American motion picture industry responded by developing closer relations with the U.S. government. After the Second World War, through governmental arrangements such as the Blum-Byrnes agreement of 1946 which granted generous import quotas to American films as part of the settlement of the French war debt, or arrangements negotiated directly between the Motion Picture Export Association of America and various governments, it succeeded in reversing the tide.3 In 1947, a compromise solution appeared to have been reached with the inclusion of Article IV in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) which recognized the specificity of cultural products, at least in the case of films, without removing them from the disciplines of the agreement.4 However, in the early 1960s, the dispute resumed when the United States asked the GATT to investigate the restrictions imposed on its television programs by a number of countries, including Canada. A special group was constituted to look at the matter but was unable to reach an agreement.5


Supra Note Free Trade Agreement North American Free Trade Agreement Uruguay Round Cultural Good 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ivan Bernier
    • 1
  1. 1.Laval UniversityLaval

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