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Culture of export in France (1) ?

France is well known for the pride it takes in its culture; this is evident due to its adoption of cultural exception. This principle of international law allows us to set limits on free trade in cultural matters in international treaties.

National interest in our culture is beyond doubt due to the recent success of the movie “Intouchables”.  Its producers can boast a box-office success with over 19 million admissions sold in France. 

Meanwhile, the film “The Artist” was, without a doubt, less of a success in France, but it received international recognition and praise after winning the Best Actor Award inCannes and numerous Oscars including “Best Film” in Hollywood.  This great success has brought back titles such as “France wins” which was used after France’s victory in the 1998 World Cup.

 Why is it that “The Artist,” a film practically 100% French, has received this amount of success? The English title, the American and British actors, and the filming location of this French film succeed in demonstrating the balance between French and international touch that any export, product or service, must contain.

“The Artist” proves the success of a French enterprise that has sold its culture, radiating an aura beyond French borders.  Will other French enterprises, like the young and dynamic company “The French Slip,” seize this opportunity to recognize France’s image when selling and exporting abroad?

It may be interesting to draw parallels withKorea and its export of cultural because it is also a follower of the cultural exception.  It is a country proud of its film industry, with movies and actors repeatedly recognized on an international level.  This dynamic, this know-how, this desire to export its culture, is further emphasized by the success of Korean TV series throughout Asia.

Though it may be easy to speak about the export of French culture, it is more difficult to speak of the culture of the exports.  The trade figures released by customs last February are explicit regarding the weak level of our exports when compared with the increase of our imports.  Even if there is a general slowdown in exports (to the Eurozone in particular), due to the lower delivery of aircraft equipment in Asia and the tsunami in Japan, exports in some areas remain quite dynamic.  This is the case in Germany; domestic demand is strong, especially in food products to Europe outside the European Union (Switzerlandwith art objects and Russia with jewelry) and especially the strong dynamism of exports to Africa, Algeriain particular.

John Rauscher’s book raises the issue of export culture in France. How does a country so loved and internationally recognized for its culture fail to use this as an advantage in economic success?  What are the barriers that we impose on ourselves? Is this crisis a valid reason for the slowdown in our exports, or is it instead an opportunity to regain a prominent standing in international trade?

Some answers with be proposed in the next post…

Written by Cécile Dekeuwer (c.dekeuwer@thelegalbloginfrance.com )

Translated by Marisa Melchert

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