March 1, 2003
U.S. Trade representative Robert Zoellick was in Los Angeles on March 27 to discuss with industry leaders the importance of free trade to the worldwide market for films and television. During Ambassador Zoellick's day in Los Angeles, the DGA hosted a roundtable discussion that included DGA members as well as representatives from Screen Actors Guild (SAG), Writers Guild of America, west (WGAw), International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), and American Film Marketing Association (AFMA).
Much of the roundtable discussion focused on runaway production and the impact of the tax incentive programs in place in a growing number of countries. Participants in the meetings stressed that many foreign governments have created these programs with the explicit goal of luring American production, not to support their own indigenous programming even though these tax programs are often identified as cultural subsidies. The DGA has historically supported subsidies provided by other governments to support their own cultural product. The need to stop international piracy was also a subject of the roundtable discussion. That same day, DGA National Executive Director Jay D. Roth participated in a press conference announcing that the DGA, along with SAG, WGA and IATSE, would be joining the newly formed Entertainment Industry Coalition for Free Trade (EIC).
The EIC's mission is to educate key policymakers about the importance of free trade given the positive impact international trade has on the entertainment community, along with the need for strong enforcement of international copyright laws and copyright protection.
"The DGA is pleased to join EIC and to support its goals," Roth said at the press conference. "Because of today's worldwide marketplace for the works our members create, the economic viability of our members' livelihoods is dependent on free and open trading relationships, strong enforcement of international copyright laws, and a healthy production environment here in the United States."
Other EIC members include AFMA; AOL Time Warner; BMG Music; EMI Recorded Music; Interactive Digital Software Association; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.; MPAA; National Association of Theatre Owners; New Line Cinema; News Corporation Limited; Paramount Pictures; Recording Industry Association of America; Sony Music Entertainment Inc.; Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.; Television Association of Programmers (TAP) Latin America; Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; Universal Music Group; Universal Studios; Viacom; the Walt Disney Company; Warner Bros., and Warner Music Group.
According to the EIC, a 2001 economic report showed that the creative industries contributed more to the U.S. economy and employed more workers than any single manufacturing sector.
Foreign sales and exports by the copyright industries in 2001 are estimated at $88.97 billion, surpassing all major industry sectors including: chemical and allied products, motor vehicles, equipment and parts, aircraft and aircraft parts, and the agricultural sector.
However, the Coalition notes that the continued economic strength of the entertainment industry is largely dependent upon achieving enhanced global standards and enforcement of copyright protection and open markets throughout the world.
One of the EIC's first objectives is to educate members of Congress of the importance the entertainment industry places on the passage of the recent U.S.-Chile and U.S.-Singapore Trade Agreements, which provide strong protection of intellectual property in the digital age, strengthen copyright enforcement, increase market access with the elimination of tariffs for all U.S. entertainment products, and demonstrate that trade agreements can be constructed to incorporate commitments on opening up service markets while addressing specific cultural-related concerns at the same time.