Legal Issues of Economic Integration vol:41 issue:3 pages:367-388
In 2013, the European Union (EU) initiated negotiations for regional trade agreements (RTAs) with the United States (US) and Japan, key trading partners and two of the largest economies in the world. Both countries have strong offensive interests in audio-visual services, a sector that is a sensitive defensive interest to the EU. In this paper, it is argued that, besides the likelihood of it being unacceptable to the US and Japan, the ‘cultural exception’ for audio-visual services as applied in EU trade policy is ill-fitting for its purposes. First, it is too narrow at a cross-sectoral level and, second, it is too wide at the sectoral level. Therefore, it is claimed that the EU should reassess its negotiation strategy vis-à-vis audio-visual services. For inspiration in doing so, this paper analyses four cases in which the US and Japan have negotiated bilaterally on audio-visual services with counterparties with defensive interests somewhat similar to the EU’s, i.e. Canada, Korea, Switzerland and India. It concludes that whilst the Canadian approach, i.e. exclusion, is unlikely to be acceptable to the EU’s negotiating partners, the Korean, Swiss and, to a lesser extent Indian, approaches provide ample guidance for the EU to rethink its negotiation strategy for audio-visual services.