A New Approach to Audiovisual Products in the WTO: Rebalancing GATT and GATS
33 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2007 Last revised: 5 Nov 2013
The UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions, which recently entered into force, highlights the lingering tensions among WTO Members about trade and culture, most often reflected in disputes and debates concerning audiovisual products. The current treatment of audiovisual products under WTO law (and particularly GATT 1994 and GATS) is far from satisfactory. Problems include the distinction between goods and services, the uncertainty of existing exceptions, and the limitations on liberalization under GATS with respect to audiovisual products. A new approach is needed in order to encourage liberalization while making allowances for Members' cultural policy objectives in this sector. This could include clarifying the good versus services distinction and realigning GATT and GATS obligations concerning audiovisual products by mandating additional commitments while expanding escape routes under GATS. This approach would enable WTO Members to resolve this central conflict between trade and culture on their own terms, once and for all.
Keywords: GATT, GATS, audiovisual, WTO
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation