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Culture in International Trade

In: Handbook of the Economics of Art and Culture


  • Acheson, Keith
  • Maule, Christopher


Cultural allegiances whether inherited, imposed or chosen, affect economic activity. Many of these cultural layers - ethnic background, religion, language, ideological orientation, and artistic interests - spill over national boundaries. Cultural ideas travel the world along many routes from the Silk Road to modern electronic networks. Historically, peripatetic artists, composers and writers have responded to shifting patronage and market opportunities. More recently, firms in the cultural industries develop and produce content and distribute it as widely as the market will bear. Visual and performing arts and the cultural industries have both common and distinct international economic dimensions. In trade agreements, countries voluntarily limit their policy options in return for restrictions on the choices of the other member countries. Arguments for protection versus openness for cultural activities are more complex and nuanced than for other economic sectors because of a wide range of views on how international cultural policy affects individuals and the national culture. The inclusion of GATS and TRIPS in the WTO made the WTO a more important influence on international cultural policy than its GATT predecessor. UNESCO continues to play a complementary role. The Florence agreement (1950) encourages the free flow of cultural products and a convention addresses illicit trade in cultural property, a heritage issue. Currently, UNESCO is the focus of efforts to create a rules-based convention to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions, which is designed to either separate international cultural policy governance from the WTO or strengthen the bargaining position of cultural industry interests in WTO negotiations. These discussions take place in circumstances where there are serious shortcomings in the measurement of trade in cultural goods and services.

Suggested Citation

  • Acheson, Keith & Maule, Christopher, 2006. "Culture in International Trade," Handbook of the Economics of Art and Culture, in: V.A. Ginsburgh & D. Throsby (ed.),Handbook of the Economics of Art and Culture, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 33, pages 1141-1182, Elsevier.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:artchp:1-33

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    Cited by:

    1. Martin Richardson & Simon Wilkie, 2013. "Faddists, enthusiasts and Canadian divas:a model of the recorded music market," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 2013-600, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.
    2. Joel Waldfogel, 2020. "Dining out as cultural trade," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 44(2), pages 309-338, June.
    3. Jaeok Park, 2015. "Cultural Barriers in International Trade and the," Korean Economic Review, Korean Economic Association, vol. 31, pages 267-300.
    4. Keith Acheson, 2011. "Globalization," Chapters, in: Ruth Towse (ed.),A Handbook of Cultural Economics, Second Edition, chapter 31, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Christopher Maule, 2011. "Television," Chapters, in: Ruth Towse (ed.),A Handbook of Cultural Economics, Second Edition, chapter 58, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. Ruth Towse, 2011. "Creative Industries," Chapters, in: Ruth Towse (ed.),A Handbook of Cultural Economics, Second Edition, chapter 17, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    7. Perona, Mathieu, 2010. "How Broadcasting Quotas Harm Program Diversity," MPRA Paper 19860, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Isidoro Mazza, 2011. "Public Choice," Chapters, in: Ruth Towse (ed.),A Handbook of Cultural Economics, Second Edition, chapter 51, Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • Z19 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Other


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