US raises the stakes in trade talks stand-off

France continues to resist inclusion of film.

by Jennie Kermode

Films should not be included in forthcoming trade talks between the US and the EU, France insists - and it has a large number of respected film directors on its side, including Americans like David Lynch. But the US is now threatening to demand exemptions of its own unless the talks go ahead as planned.

"There will be a price to pay," said US ambassador William Kennard in a recent interview, arguing that the only way forward for the talks is if nothing is off the table. France, however, could potentially veto the talks altogether unless a deal is reached. With just three days to go until the G8 summit where they were due to be launched, the war of words is hotting up.

At stake is the Cultural Exception that allows European nations to protect their film industries from what the French perceive as unreasonable US competition. Defenders of the exception argue that this is essential if films that value artistry above mass appeal, or that are aimed at minority audiences, are to continue to be made.

The US has no need to protect its own thriving film industry but claims to be experiencing strong internal pressures over other areas of commerce. It is not yet clear what, if the exception were to remain, the US would want in return.

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