Free Trade Area of the Americas - FTAA


Trade Negotiations

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November 26, 2003

Original: Spanish
Translation: FTAA Secretariat



Name(s) Paulo Slachevsky, Mane Nett, Bruno Bettati, Juan Carlos Saez, Silvia Aguilera
Country CHILE

Culture in the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas

Chilean Coalition for Cultural Diversity

The Chilean Coalition for Cultural Diversity (Coalición Chilena para la Diversidad Cultural) is an umbrella group created in 2001 that now comprises twenty Chilean cultural associations that advocate and promote cultural diversity. With regard to the treatment of trade in cultural goods and services within the FTAA, the Coalition considers that:

1. Culture is closely linked to the possibility of constructing a more just and democratic society. Cultural development is an end in and of itself, as acknowledged by UNESCO, and to flourish, it requires a framework of freedom, the coordination of public policy, and actions by private parties and civil society to “transcend the economy without thereby abandoning it” (See report entitled Our Creative Diversity, UNESCO).
2. Cultural development seeks to ensure countries’ comprehensive development.
Although Chile is among the countries that have gone the furthest in signing free trade agreements, Chilean President Ricardo Lagos has said, “We cannot take the road of being mere passive recipients of cultural objects and values produced elsewhere. For globalization to be a dialogue among cultures rather than the hegemony of one culture over others, it is essential that we now assume tasks to stimulate and favor our own creations and heritage, and to encourage the participation of all. The debate on cultural goods plays a fundamental role in free trade agreements, and we must be able to adequately defend these goods. This is because hegemony is exerted in many fields, but, ultimately, ideas, beauty, the way of thinking, that which comes from our roots [is] what perseveres and what allows for a dialogue among civilizations. . . . Culture is the foundation, the component, the goal of the type of development of each society, of each country. . . . Culture is at the center of any civilization, of any society.”
3. Culture is a society’s expression and projection.
Alongside education, culture is the very backbone of development. It allows countries to develop their own identity and trademarks and enables societies to exist over the long term. In that construct, which has social and economic effects, domestic cultural industries play a fundamental role.
4. Culture must not be absorbed by trade.
Cultural development, understood broadly as “the set of distinctive traits that characterize a people’s or a society’s way of living” and “ways of living together” (UNESCO), cannot be principally governed by the rules of trade, which has its own logic and is not always coherent and compatible with the logic of culture.
5. Cultural creation and industries generate a collective identity and are therefore strategic.
"There is no individual identity without reference to a collective identity” correctly notes Chilean political scientist Norbert Lechner. Without its own identity, a country cannot foster its “own trademark” or have exportable products in which the denomination of origin is one more factor. Moreover, the existence of a country image makes a nation more attractive for tourism and investment. Hence, each country’s cultural industries play a strategic role for the purpose of strengthening development and growth.
6. In the globalization process, concentration brings about standardization.
Transnational concentration in the ownership of cultural industries has brought about widespread standardization of cultural content, marked by cultural imperatives (Ivan Bernier). This phenomenon is reinforced by the digital divide and by unequal development in the technological sphere. This imposes a given type of production over others, seriously threatening the diversity of cultural expressions and, therefore, cultural diversity.
7. Local cultures require a commitment from governments.
Cultures are going through complex times in globalization: as the processes of cultural reproduction of dominant cultures over local production increase, the characteristic stamps of local identities are falling apart, mercantile logic prevails as the regulating core in the set of cultural production and distribution. In order to achieve equilibrium, countries need to participate more actively in encouraging the sustainability of their own cultural expressions. In economic terms, there is not, nor will there be, equal competition between global mass products and local cultural products.
8. The market has been shown to not be a guarantor of the equitable and diverse development of culture.
We stakeholders in the world of culture do not seek to limit cultural exchange among countries-quite the contrary. We are, however, opposed to the rules that serve as the basis for free trade agreements and that accompany the signing of these agreements-such as “national treatment,” the “most favored nation” clause, and “market access”-being applied to the cultural sphere, since they limit or inhibit the possibility of developing public policy, leaving it solely in the hands of the market and its “invisible forces.” As such public policies have limited resources, they must discriminate in order to be effective, not by closing borders but by supporting local creation and production through diverse mechanisms. The possibility of discriminatory action should be safeguarded with regard to education, culture, and native peoples in the present and for the future.
9. Bilateral, regional, or multilateral trade agreements may neutralize governments’ cultural policies.
This concentration can be expressed in the following numbers: 85 percent of the movies shown throughout the world are made in Hollywood; five or six groups control the record industry; diverse publishing houses have been increasingly concentrated by large consortia that span borders and languages. This domination of the “entertainment industries” is occurring despite the existence of government cultural regulations, which have begun to be nullified through international trade agreements. The search for total market control, which could be successful if public policies in the sector are constrained, can be explained by the fact that as far back as 1996, cultural exports were the United States’ leading category of exports, as noted in a UNESCO study.
10. Future cultural policies must not be restricted by today’s trade agreements.
Since we currently do not have the elements to define what public cultural or educational policies will be necessary in the future in order to preserve local cultural expressions, we cannot accept limitations on the leeway afforded to those who now decide or who in the future will decide on cultural policies. The stipulations of these agreements are nearly irreversible; hence, it would be an extremely serious matter if rigid trade rules were imposed on sectors whose essence is not related to trade per se.
11. Culture and democracy cannot be validated by criteria based on “comparative advantages.”
Can we allow entire countries to be precluded from the possibility of generating music, literature, film or theater because they are not competitive? This criterion is valid with regard to commercial issues, when we think of a globalized world; however, it cannot be dogmatically applied to the cultural sector. An international division of labor in cultural matters, with some countries producing and others only receiving, is unacceptable.
12. Governments must preserve their citizens’ potential to take part in cultural creation and production.
Just as citizens need rights allowing them to be participants in the society in which they live, without being subsumed by the logic of government and state, the stakeholders in the world of culture, such as the cultures of native peoples, have no real market freedom if a structure of rights is not created to protect them against consortia with which they cannot and do not hope to compete. Successful coexistence requires that governments implement policies to ensure balance and promotion for the sake of local identities and their cultural creation/production. This architecture of cultural policies must be freely discussed by society without being limited a priori.
13. A multicultural, reciprocal exchange builds and enriches culture.
The facts show that, in this aspect as well, governments must add proactive policies to the market logic, policies that foster greater balance and a meeting of cultures.
14. All citizens have the right to have access to and experience cultural diversity.
Cultural diversity is a crucial factor in integration among peoples. It acts as a catalyst for creativity and as a very important source of innovation. Citizens’ exposure to diverse cultural expressions is also an unavoidable condition for improving their quality of life.
15. An instrument to ensure cultural diversity has become urgently needed.
At the end of World War II, a series of international institutions were created so as to guard against any repetition of the history of terror. These institutions include the UN, UNESCO, UNCTAD, and the GATT accord-which years later became the WTO-among others. We do not believe that the principles of one of the organizations-the WTO-should now dominate the efforts of all the others. Thus, it is essential, not only for culture but also for human development per se, to promote international regulations that will dovetail with the WTO’s trade logic. The development of an International Convention on Cultural Diversity has become a necessary step to strike a balance between the diverse perspectives of human endeavors, and until that time, commitments in this regard in international trade forums should be frozen.
16. Intellectual property must be at the service of a nation’s creators and wealth.
Cultural endeavors generate creations that involve intellectual rights. Such creations are the inalienable wealth of their authors, as well as of the society to which they belong. These criteria are the foundation for intellectual property regulations. Therefore, we cannot accept these principles being reduced to commercial pragmatism, which would thereby give these rights to encroachers or commercial producers.
17. Changes in the laws that govern intellectual property rights are incumbent on citizens, since they necessarily compromise the country’s future.
While unequal trade between the nations of the North and the South has increased exponentially in recent decades, the denouncement of this reality has strangely been abandoned. Regulations concerning intellectual property rights play a substantial role in the increase or limitation of this structure of inequality among countries. The debate on this issue concerns the future and cannot be addressed from a merely technical or economic perspective.
18. Countries’ development in the era of the knowledge society is a cultural gamble.
The digital divide cannot be breached merely by teaching people how to use computers; rather, countries must be capable of creating in the era of the information society. This is achieved by strengthening the foundations of the “knowledge society.” This is a cultural gamble, which requires freedom and creativity in public policymaking. Cultural development cannot hinge solely on those in whom economic capital is concentrated, but on the coordination of their endeavors with the efforts of governments, civil society, creators, and micro-, small- and medium-sized cultural enterprises, which requires a framework of balance to survive, because the foundations of democracy, development, pluralism, and civic-mindedness depend on the quality of culture and education in our countries.

For these reasons, the cultural associations that comprise the Chilean Coalition for Cultural Diversity (Chilean Actors’ Union [SIDARTE]; Chilean Union of Music Workers [Sitmuch]; Association of Chilean Publishing Workers [EDIN]; Copyright Association [SCD]; Creaimagen; Association of Literary Rights [SADEL]; Chilean Association of Performers [SCI]; Chileactores; Union of Cinematographic Professionals and Technicians [SINTECI]; Association of Chilean Writers [SECH]; Association of Chilean Painters and Sculptors [APECH]; Association of National Authors of Theater, Cinema, and Audiovisuals [ATN]; Prodanza; and the Audiovisual Platform Federation of Chile (which, in turn, comprises the Association of Movie and TV Producers [APCT]; Association of Documentary Makers (ADOC); Association of Chilean Short Films (ACORCH); Chilean Video Corporation; and the Chilean Foundation of Moving Images)).

hereby demand:

A.- That the FTAA negotiations include a present and future exception or broad reservation for cultural expressions (see annexed definitions), similar to that set forth in the 1994 Chile-Canada Agreement, covering cultural creation, production, and distribution, such as for the education sector, the non-applicability of “national treatment,” “most favored nation” and “market access” clauses, and that cultural goods and services only be considered in the FTAA in terms of the elimination of tariff barriers.
B.- That the FTAA negotiations, in considering culturally related exceptions or reservations, include the new supports for this type of production, including digital production, and even cultural services and goods without physical support. In this regard, we request that the cultural exception or reservation not be limited to the Chapter on Services, but that it also be included in the Chapter on Electronic Commerce.
C.- That the FTAA negotiations on intellectual property as well as on cultural goods and services include the effective participation of the sectors of civil society that have participated on the topic, with a view to ensuring that these regulations favor creators and the country’s human and democratic development. We want the negotiations to reflect regulations on intellectual property rights, under the principles of human rights and universal access to artistic works, and to prevent copyright from becoming a right to copy, which does not have a cultural, but rather, an industrial dimension. We must deal with this issue, which is the foundation of the wealth of nations in the era of globalization, from a cultural and social perspective, and not under the domination of the trade prism.
D.- That in all bilateral, regional, or multicultural negotiations on goods and services, the FTAA signatory countries refrain from assuming liberalization commitments regarding any of the so-called cultural goods and services, and thereby avoid giving up all or part of their cultural sovereignty. States should maintain their regulatory autonomy in this field.
E.- That the signatory countries of the FTAA adopt the foreword proposed by Canada in 2000 that states: “the 34 governments of the countries that participate in the FTAA [are] determined to (…) recognize[e] that countries must maintain the ability to preserve, develop and implement their cultural policies for the purpose of strengthening cultural diversity, given the essential role that cultural goods and services play in the identity and diversity of society and the lives of individuals;”, and become actively involved in the building of the Convention on Cultural Diversity in UNESCO, which, based on the International Declaration of Human Rights, could become an instrument of international law to preserve cultural diversity, safeguard the regulatory power of states with regard to cultural matters, foster a better balance and greater solidarity in international trade in culture, and provide a point of reference with respect to international fora and for the development of cultural policies.

We firmly believe that these proposals are both necessary and urgent. There are currently 9 coalitions working on this in all 5 continents, of which 4 are in the Americas: Argentina, Canada, Mexico and Chile. The extinction of the cultural expression of countries is an attack on the existence of those countries as nations. This matter is as serious and delicate as far as the future of humankind is concerned as the loss of biodiversity. Trade and the culture of calculation should be complemented with a culture of diversity, the imposition of one way of life upon another should be avoided, and dialog among and meetings between peoples should be intensified. States must therefore not renounce their ability to participate in the cultural development of their countries.
Real integration “requires a history of changes that makes it possible to understand the course taken” (Norbert Lechner), and this can only be achieved through the meeting of the diversity of cultural expressions, which are in urgent need of being safeguarded and fostered. We cannot build a continental WE, if we accept the dominance or imposition of one way of life over the others.
The conclusions of the recent and notable UNDP human development report “We the Chileans: A Cultural Challenge”, could readily be projected onto the reality of the region as a whole: “to build a future we need an image of ourselves as a desired, feasible community, and that in itself is a cultural challenge”, which can only be met through dialog and the integration of the diversity of our cultures.

Cultural expression
refers to the creation, production, distribution and exhibition of cultural contents in any medium or form that exists now or in the future.
Cultural content refers to the production of individual creators and cultural industries, which are generally protected by intellectual property rights and which include, but are not limited to: 1) the creative production of individuals [and cultural industries] revealed in different areas of the arts, such as theater, visual arts and professions, architecture and design; 2) sounds, images and texts of films, videos, sound recordings, books, magazines, newspapers, program reruns and other kinds of media, whether in existence today or invented in the future, whether created by individuals or cultural industries; 3) collections and exhibitions belonging to museums, galleries and libraries that include archives related to the cultural heritage of a society.
Cultural goods and services are all those goods and services that transmit cultural contents and that acquire their specific nature because they transmit values, meanings and identities and are therefore not just consumer items.
Cultural industries refers to the organizations, companies and individuals that create, produce, publish, distribute, exhibit, supply or sell cultural contents.
(These definitions were drawn up by the Working Group on Cultural Diversity of the RIPC)

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