Investments in market access has been a recurrent request of the Canadian Arts Coalition. Consistent messaging has paid off: the government keeps delivering new initiatives in the areas of trade and cultural diplomacy.
Last fall’s Creative Export Strategy was welcomed news by the arts sector. It provided clarity as to the allocation of Budget 2016’s initial investment of $25 million, and it committed another $125 million over five years to open up new markets and opportunities for Canada’s creative entrepreneurs. The announcement affirmed: “We will target key markets where there are strong opportunities to promote Canada’s creative industries.”
Recent trade and cultural diplomacy announcements have lifted the veil as to who these key markets are.
On January 23, Canada and the 10 other remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership concluded discussions on a new Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). This revamped agreement is a clear improvement over the previous iteration. First, many intellectual property provisions of concern were suspended. Second, a new preamble was introduced which acknowledges several key principles including a mention of the importance that parties place on promoting cultural identity and diversity, as well as the reaffirmation of the right of governments to regulate in the public interest. Third, Canada was successful in negotiating legally-binding side letters which fully preserve Canada’s flexibility to adopt programs and policies that support the promotion, creation, development, promotion and distribution of Canadian content and artistic expressions, including in the digital environment. The resulting scaffolding of annexes and side letters may present its fair share of complexities. Yet, it clearly affirms that cultural goods and services, as vectors of identity, values and meaning, deserve to be treated with special consideration.
Then, on February 1 and 2, the inaugural meeting of the Canada-China Joint Committee on Culture took place in Ottawa. This committee “will position culture as one of the key areas of ongoing governmental engagement with China”. One such engagement will be Canada’s Creative Industries Trade Mission to China in the spring.
The Canadian Arts Coalition commends the government of Canada on its efforts to open up new trade opportunities for the Canadian creators in Asia. The announcements of the new PCTPP and of the Canada-China Joint Committee on Culture are positive responses to longstanding requests of the arts sector. They are also timely developments in light of the risks associated with the renegotiation of the North-American Free Trade Agreement.
It’s good to be back on the international stage.