In today’s world there is a diverse range of cultural and creative industries. Music, books, crafts, films and many other cultural goods and services move across international borders, creating a complex picture of cultural trade flows. Cultural and creative industries alone are estimated to account for over 7% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product.
A report, entitled, International Flows of Selected Cultural Goods and Services, 1994-2003, published by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, analyses cross-border trade data from about 120 countries on selected products, such as books, CDs, videogames and sculptures. It presents new methodology to better reflect cultural trade flows, contributing to UNESCO’s effort to collect and analyse data that clearly illustrate the central role of culture in economic, social and human development.
This report looks at selected global flows of cultural goods and services. It shows that high-income economies are the largest producers and consumers of cultural goods . Thus, three countries - the United Kingdom, United States and China - produced 40 percent of the world’s cultural trade products in 2002, while Latin America and Africa together accounted for less than four percent according to the report. In this respect, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura declared however: "While globalization offers great potential for countries to share their cultures and creative talents, it is clear that not all nations are able to take advantage of this opportunity (…) without support to help these countries participate in this trade, their cultural voices will remain marginalized and isolated".
The report outlines some of the difficulties in measuring the international flows of cultural and creative industries’ products using the existing industrial and product classifications. It explores innovative ways of presenting existing data and identifying data which could be collected in the future. The lack of data, particularly for cultural services, together with the complex nature of cultural products, means that the Report offers only a partial picture. However, this study represents a step forward in measuring the nature and direction of international cultural trade flows and presenting a more complete global picture of these flows.
However, the report underlines that in line with the recent adoption by UNESCO of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (October 2005), the Organization will pursue its efforts to identify new ways to measure culture and its manifold expressions.