Negotiations alternative to penalties imposed on film, TV producers

HOLLYWOOD — Backers of the delayed countervailing tariffs petition have asked U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick to launch negotiations with the Canadian government as an alternative to imposing penalties on film & TV producers.

Reps for the coalition of entertainment industry workers filed a Section 301 petition with the USTR as part of their ongoing efforts to bring pressure on Canada to stop luring U.S. producers through subsidies.

A rep for Zoellick, who is the chief U.S. negotiator in trade talks with other nations, said he had not seen the filing but noted that such moves usually trigger a 45-day review period, during which the USTR will decide whether to proceed with negotiations.

The move comes in this week’s decision to withdraw the petition for a federal probe on the legality of Canuck film and TV subsidies with plans to refile in a month or two with more-detailed info on the entertainment biz.

“We’re continuing to look for ways to do something about the loss of jobs,” said Brent Swift, head of the Film & Television Action Committee. “This is something that’s being taken very seriously in Washington.”

Swift reported he had received positive responses in meetings this week with staffers from powerful House Ways & Means Committee chief Bill Thomas (R.-Calif.) and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R.-Texas), along with leaders of the AFL-CIO and Intl. Brotherhood of Teamsters.

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