Trade Treaty on Brink of Approval U.S., Europe End Haggling about Movies

By Ap Charlotte Grimes of the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau provided material . | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), December 15, 1993 | Go to article overview

Trade Treaty on Brink of Approval U.S., Europe End Haggling about Movies


Ap Charlotte Grimes of the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau provided material ., St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


The biggest global trade pact ever, involving more than 100 nations, cleared its last major hurdle Tuesday when the United States and European Community set aside their fight over movies.

The U.S.-EC agreement was reached one day before the deadline on a deal aimed at infusing the world economy with new vitality and left the more than 100 other nations little choice but to accept it.

Despite a flurry of last-minute snags and a barrage of protests, there seemed little doubt that the enormous trade accord was in reach.

Although Hollywood executives expressed anger over the exclusion of movies, President Bill Clinton proclaimed the United States "on the verge of a historic victory in our efforts to open foreign markets to American products."

Sir Leon Brittan, the EC's trade chief, called the agreement "a milestone in the history of world trade." Brittan made his comments after an all-night meeting with Mickey Kantor, the U.S. trade representative.

The 116-nation Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade is expected eventually to funnel more than $200 billion annually into a sluggish world economy by lowering import barriers and establishing fairer trade standards.

The United States and the EC had been deadlocked for months over farm subsidies and movies.

U.S. negotiators first agreed to slow down the cuts in farm export subsidies that benefit French grain farmers. But French farmers still took to the streets Tuesday in outrage over the agreed-upon measures.

The Americans then agreed to pull the movie and music sectors out of the trade accord. That was a significant move because entertainment has become one of the leading U.S. exports with enormous room for further expansion.

"This is a great and beautiful victory for Europe and for French culture," French Communications Minister Alain Carignon said in Paris.

One of the top goals of the United States had been to include the entertainment sector in a planned deal to liberalize trade in services. But Kantor said that, in the end, Clinton gave the go-ahead to walk away with no deal on movies rather than accepting "a totally inadequate" EC offer.

The United States was prepared to accept overall European limits on imported American television programs but wanted a number of "quota-free" channels. The Europeans did not want to commit themselves on new technologies, such as pay-per-view television, satellite broadcasting and expanded cable services. The two sides also failed to agree on how to distribute the proceeds from levies on blank video and audio cassettes and cinema box office receipts that fund cultural subsidies in Europe. …

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