Three countries - the United Kingdom, United States and China - produced 40 percent of the world’s cultural trade products in 2002, while Latin America and Africa together accounted for less than four percent according to a new report by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Entitled, International Flows of Selected Cultural Goods and Services, 1994-2003, the report analyses cross-border trade data from about 120 countries on selected products, such as books, CDs, videogames and sculptures. It presents new methodology to better reflect cultural trade flows, contributing to UNESCO’s effort to collect and analyse data that clearly illustrate the central role of culture in economic, social and human development.
The global market value of cultural and creative industries has been estimated at USD 1.3 trillion and is rapidly expanding. According to the report, between 1994 and 2002, international trade in cultural goods increased from USD 38 billion to USD 60 bn.
However, “while globalization offers great potential for countries to share their cultures and creative talents, it is clear that not all nations are able to take advantage of this opportunity,” said UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura. “Without support to help these countries participate in this trade, their cultural voices will remain marginalized and isolated.”
According to the report, Latin America and the Caribbean accounted for only three percent of the total trade of cultural goods in 2002, one point more than in 1992, though far behind other world regions. Oceania and Africa have not shown any progress, with a combined share of less than one percent in 2002.
The UK was the biggest single exporter of cultural goods in that year (USD 8.5 billion) followed by the USA (USD 7.6 bn) and China (USD 5.2 bn).
The USA was the biggest importer of cultural goods in 2002 (USD 15.3 bn), followed by the UK (USD 7.8 bn), and Germany (USD 4.1 bn). It is important to note that the data presented are based mainly upon customs declarations, and do not reflect foreign sales.
The report analyses these trade flows by dividing cultural goods into categories, such as printed media, recorded media, visual arts and audiovisual media.
Printed media –books as well as newspapers, periodicals and other printed matter – accounted for 31 percent of cultural trade in 2002. The world’s largest book exporters are: the USA (18 percent), UK (17 percent), Germany (12 percent), Spain (6 percent) and France (5 percent). The main destinations for books were the USA, UK, Canada, Germany and France.
Recorded media - primarily consisting of music, sound recordings and related software - represented 32 percent of global cultural trade in 2002. The five main exporters are: the USA (17 percent); Germany* (12 percent); Ireland* (12 percent); the UK (9 percent); and Singapore (8 percent). The largest importers of recorded media are the UK, Germany, France, USA and Canada.
In the visual arts, including paintings, engravings, prints, original sculptures and statuary, the UK, China, USA, Germany and Switzerland accounted for 60 percent of all exports in 2002. With the exception of China, they are also the world’s largest importers. The UK is the single largest importer (42 percent) and exporter (23 percent) of the global trade.
The trade in audiovisual media** is dominated by video games. The top five exporters are: China (32 percent), Japan (17 percent), Mexico (11 percent), Hungary (9 percent) and Germany (just under 9 percent). The USA alone imported 42 percent of these products, followed by Germany, the UK, Hong Kong (China)*** and France.
This study is a step forward in measuring the nature and direction of international cultural trade flows. However the lack of data, particularly for cultural services, together with the complex nature of cultural products, means that the Report offers only a partial picture. In line with the recent adoption by UNESCO of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (October 2005), the Organization will pursue its efforts to identify new ways to measure culture and its manifold expressions.
Five case studies are presented in the following charts, identifying each country’s top five trade partners, their respective shares (expressed in percentages) for 2003 and 1994, and the main products traded.
* Exports primarily consist of CDs and related software.
**Exports and imports associated with the film and broadcasting industries are not accurately reflected by customs data that only reflects the declared customs value of a master copy.
*** Data from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China are shown separately since handover took place in 1997 and data collection began in 1994.
To download the report