Dan Glickman, President, Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), October 24, 2005 – 2005/10/24
The nearly unanimous adoption of the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions on Thursday, October 20, by UNESCO member countries, against the will of the United States, was the focus of a round table discussion at Rencontres cinématographiques de Beaune (Côte-d’Or) on Friday, October 21, on the theme “OMC-UNESCO, quelle complémentarité pour quelle diversité culturelle?,” which covered the central issue of the relationship of the UNESCO Convention with the WTO. These meetings were run by filmmaker Jeanne Labrune and attended by a multitude of movie industry professionals. A number of prominent figures participated, including culture and communications minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres; Dan Glickman, president of the Motion Picture Association of America; Pascal Rogard, executive director of SACD and president of the French Coalition for Cultural Diversity; and Senator Jack Ralite.
In its October 24 edition, Le Monde reported that Dan Glickman, the sole American representative at the meetings to defend the interests of Hollywood studios, said that he “agreed with the draft convention” but was “concerned” by the “ambiguities” and overly “vague” nature of the document. “The devil is in the details,” noted Mr. Glickman, who feels that “all countries negotiating trade agreements could claim that there is a cultural aspect to coffee, bananas, cotton, or cheese...” He notably urged European movie industry professionals to “strive to make sure the Convention does not contribute to closing borders, restricting the flow of information, or reducing the freedom of expression,” by citing Iran, which has decided to restrict the screening of American movies.
Firing the first warning shots in response to the adoption of the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, Mr. Glickman declared that no state had the right to use the new Convention to block products (American films). If a country’s actions breach WTO regulations, he added, “ there will be conflicts. ” UNESCO shouldn’t meddle in trade, he indicated.
As for Ms. Kristin Silverberg, a senior official for the American State Department speaking in Rome, the United States could “try to prevent” states from ratifying the Convention, or “make sure states do not abuse it.”
Moreover, when questioned on an Argentine radio show on October 26, the American ambassador to Argentina, Mr. Lino Gutierrez, indicated that the United States would resort to bilateral agreements in the Western Hemisphere if its initiative to create the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) were to fail. The United States do not intend to give up on its project for a Free Trade Area of the Americas, but “if we cannot achieve free trade multilaterally, we’ll do it bilaterally,” declared the ambassador.