Document Type



The duality of cultural products presents themselves both as commercial objects and assets which convey values and identity. The WTO regime currently does not legalize ‘cultural exception’ while the adoption of UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity adds more discord on the interface between the ‘specificity’ of cultural products and the ‘generality’ of trade obligations. Against this backdrop, the recently decided WTO case of China--Publications and Audiovisual Products provides an opportune chance to pinpoint the treatment of cultural products in the WTO framework. Based on the DSB reports, this comment centers its analysis on four key issues, including invoking the UNESCO Convention as cultural defense, applying ‘public morals exception’ to cultural products, the distinction and overlap between cultural goods and services, and how much culture can count for in determining the ‘likeness’ between imported and domestic cultural products, etc.. The comment ends with concluding remarks on the case decisions, lessons China may have learned, and the necessity of reconciliation between free trade and cultural diversity in the context of economic globalization.

Date of Authorship for this Version

Spring 4-2010


International Law; International Trade; Trade Regulation