Industry Coalition For Free Trade Formed
February I had the pleasure of speaking to the United
Drive-In Theatre NATO has joined the Motion Picture Association
of America, the Recording Industry Association of America,
other leading entertainment-industry associations and
more than a dozen major entertainment companies in the
formation of the Entertainment Industry Coalition for
Free Trade (EIC). Accompanied by Ambassador Robert B.
Zoellick of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative,
leading members of Congress, and ambassadors from the
embassies of Chile and Singapore, we announced our coalition
at the U.S. Capitol in a March 13 press conference.
The purpose of the coalition is to
support the efforts of the U.S. government in its negotiations
of free trade
agreements with other nations, and to see that those
agreements receive approval by Congress. Specifically,
the Bush administration’s trade agenda provides
a powerful vehicle for addressing the challenge of
piracy, as well as the removal of trade barriers that
the profitability of the entertainment industry internationally.
Those trade barriers include tariffs on movies and
equipment imported into foreign countries, as well
as screen quotas
and other restrictions on exhibition.
The coalition’s first two projects
serve as good examples of these themes. The United States
free trade agreements with Chile and Singapore. Congress
will now consider legislation to approve and implement
those accords. If implemented, the agreements would
help prevent movie piracy by enforcing the obligations
certain international treaties on intellectual property
protection, and by emulating U.S. law regarding online
copyright protection. The agreements would also result
in stronger criminal enforcement of anti-piracy laws
by the governments of Chile and Singapore, thereby
decreasing movie piracy in those jurisdictions, as well
pirates from using those territories as a launching
point for the traffic of pirated goods.
In addition to piracy enforcement, the agreements
with Chile and Singapore would open those markets further
to American movies, as well as the equipment necessary
to build modern cinemas. Under the agreements, more
than 85 percent of two-way trade in consumer and industrial
products becomes tariff-free immediately, with most
remaining tariffs eliminated within four years. This means zero
tariffs on movies, for example.
In addition to the MPAA, RIAA and NATO,
the Coalition includes: the American Film Marketing Association,
a worldwide trade group of the independent film and
industry; The Interactive Digital Software Association,
a U.S. group of companies that make video games;
and the Television Association of Programmers Latin
a trade group of pan-regional subscription programming
suppliers. Many individual music, movie and other
entertainment industry companies also support the
group will lobby members of Congress to support free
agreements that support our goals, beginning with
the Chile and Singapore negotiations.
The members of NATO’s International Committee discussed
this coalition at our meeting in Las Vegas during ShoWest,
and unanimously endorsed the association’s active
support of the coalition’s activities.