A Consideration of the Validity of Cultural Protectionism with Reference to the Multifunctionality of European Farms and the Canadian Magazine Dispute
Seminar paper from the year 2002 in the subject Business economics - Economic Policy, printed single-sided, grade: 1.3 (A), University of Manchester (Manchester School of Management), 37 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: The defence of local culture is becoming an increasing concern in the current era of globalisation, as diminishing transport costs and new forms of communication are enabling worldwide dissemination of products and ideas. The importation of cultural goods from nations with disparate values and traditions could potentially cause the destabilisation of national or local communities. Indeed, these cultural goods may displace existing products and result in cultural homogenisation. Another potential threat is that posed to cultural industries, where competitive foreign firms may be able to dominate, again resulting in a reduction in cultural diversity.§However, while it is widely agreed that local culture should be preserved, the term "culture" is a subjective construct open to varying interpretations by different groups and institutions, including national and international policymakers. The concept of multifunctionality rests on the assumption that the continuing existence of local farms is vital in order to preserve the local way of life, that production generates diverse benefits and forms a cultural heritage. The argument follows that protectionist measures are justified to protect an industry that would otherwise be unable to compete following trade liberalisation.§Currently, measures designed to protect culture are exempt from WTO consideration and disputes between nations are negotiated bilaterally. As a result, there are fears that larger economies, such as the US, are able to dominate the cultural industries of smaller nations. This paper makes two main recommendations: the first is for a change in domestic policy, arguing that government measures to halt the intrusion of foreign culture would be better directed by using subsidies, education and training to promote local cultures; the second is for international trade policy, based upon the establishment of an independent body to deal with cultural issues. Through the development of a methodology which can develop agreements on more easily recognisable cultural interests - those less clouded by economic motivations - such a body would be able to tackle the more complex and problematic issues, with the aim of separating economic and political issues from genuine cultural concerns.