With support from international writers' guilds, the Australian industry is now hoping to get actors to back their quest to get a cultural exemption in the free trade agreement currently being negotiated between Australia and the US.

There remains extreme nervousness that the right to have subsidies, tax advantages and content regulations for local film and television will be traded away in favour of benefits for agriculture. The general consensus is that the US is being tough because of the long-term implications on potential trade agreements in Europe and elsewhere if an exemption is granted to Australia.

Meeting in Canada on Friday, the International Affiliation of Writers' Guilds (IAWG) agreed that "in accordance with the principles of the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds (IAWG), which include the encouragement and maintenance of the distinct cultural identities of each country and the promotion and protection of the interests internationally of each Guild and the members thereof, the IAWG acknowledges that a commitment to cultural diversity and to the promotion of vibrant indigenous production industries can and does co-exist with a commitment to international free trade.

"The IAWG supports the right of all Governments to intervene in respect of the promotion of indigenous production and cultural industries and urges all Governments to maintain these rights. To this end, the IAWG unequivocally supports the right of all Australian Governments to legislate in respect of film, television, radio, theatre and new media industries across all existing delivery platforms and those which may exist in the future."

The International Affiliation of Writers' Guilds is made up of the Australian Writers' Guild, Writers Guild of America West, Writers Guild of America East, Writers Guild of Canada, New Zealand Writers Guild, Irish Playwrights, Screenwriters Guild Société des Auteurs de Radio, Télévision et Cinema (Quebec) and the Writers Guild of Great Britain.

The president of the Canadian Coalition of Cultural Diversity is taking the resolution to a meeting in Los Angeles this week to seek the support of the US actors' guild.