July 26, 2017

ACP releases submission on NAFTA and Canadian book publishing

In its submission to Global Affairs Canada’s consultations on the upcoming renegotiation and modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Association of Canadian Publishers (ACP) calls for maintenance of NAFTA’s cultural exception, a renewed commitment to Canadian ownership of cultural industries, and stronger protections for copyright and intellectual property. The full submission is available for download from the association’s website.

“The cultural exception is as important to a good agreement today as when it was first established in the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement thirty years ago,” said ACP president Glenn Rollans. “The exception recognizes the unique role that cultural industries play in our respective countries, and has contributed to the growth and development of a thriving Canadian publishing industry. Its maintenance in any modernization of NAFTA is of critical importance to Canadian-owned book publishers, who are responsible for publishing the vast majority of new Canadian authored books each year.”

Trade agreements play a critical role in Canada’s publishing environment, and none is more important than that which governs trade with the United States—independent Canadian publishers’ largest export market and also the source of the sector’s greatest competition. Despite export sales to the US accounting for upwards of 50% of some Canadian publishers’ annual revenues, the balance of trade in books between the two countries tilts very heavily in favour of the US. Books imported to Canada from the US contribute to a trade deficit with the US book industry of approximately $375 million (CAD) each year. Without the government programs and policies the cultural exception makes possible, this deficit would grow and limit the domestic industry’s capacity to publish new Canadian authored books and educational resources.

“Technology has changed the publishing industry dramatically since NAFTA’s adoption, and the cultural exception has been a key factor in Canadian publishers’ ongoing success,” observed ACP executive director Kate Edwards. “At the same time, the upcoming negotiations present an opportunity to strengthen Canada’s commitment to Canadian ownership in cultural industries, and to ensure our international treaty obligations with respect to copyright and intellectual property rights are upheld.”

The first round of NAFTA negotiations is scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C., from August 16-20, 2017.