OTTAWA – The Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) and ACTRA praised the federal government Monday for ensuring that the cultural exemption remained in the new North American free trade agreement, known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
The cultural exemption, which was included in NAFTA, recognizes Canada’s sovereign right to adopt measures and policies to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions within its territory, a right recognized in 2005 in the UNESCO Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, of which Canada was the first signatory.
CMPA president and CEO Reynolds Mastin said that by securing this exemption in the new agreement, “Prime Minister Trudeau, Minister Freeland, and the entire negotiating team have stood tall for Canada and defended our cultural sovereignty.”
“For more than two decades, Canada and the United States have built a strong and mutually beneficial partnership that has allowed the media production sector to thrive on both sides the border”, he added. “Moving forward, our members will continue to work collaboratively with their counterparts in the U.S. and Mexico, producing world-class content for audiences in Canada and around the world.”
ACTRA echoed those sentiments, saying the Feds negotiated in the country’s best interest and stood up for Canadian sovereignty.
“Maintaining and enhancing a cultural exemption has been a key priority for ACTRA since the Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. was first negotiated in the 1980s,” said ACTRA National executive director Stephen Waddell, in a separate statement. “At first glance, what appears to be the inclusion of a broader platform-neutral cultural exemption incorporated into the agreement is a positive step in modernizing this trade deal between two of Canada’s major trading partners.”
Numerous Canadian cultural and media organizations had implored the federal government to retain the exemption, warning of “catastrophic effects” if it was dropped from the new agreement.