Canadian Minister of Industry Jim Prentice has defended his country’s game industry against U.K. complaints that it is operating unfairly and in contravention of World Trade Organization laws.
The United Kingdom announced in March that it had launched an investigation into tax rebates in various Canadian provinces, which it said provided an unfair advantage in attracting videogame developers and publishers to the country. The U.K. Ministry of Culture, Media and Sport issued a statement saying it was “concerned that state aid offered to computer games companies by a number of federal institutions in Canada” may be in contravention of WTO rules.
But according to a Globe and Mail report, Prentice defended the behavior of the Canadian industry, saying, “We have innovative Canadian companies that do great work, that are cutting edge and I hope they will continue to do exactly that, compete with the best in the world.”
“We have a very strong, innovative gaming industry in Canada … we exist in a global marketplace and, certainly, global competition in that area is quite fierce,” he said, adding that he was “not aware of any specific trade challenges that have been mounted on that point.” He also said he had no evidence Canada had broken any international trade laws, and that he would be touring some of the major videogame companies in Canada in order to learn more about the industry.
Many major studios have set up shop in Canada, particularly in the province of Quebec, which sports facilities operated by Ubisoft, Eidos and Electronic Arts, among others. Ontario recently announced changes in its tax laws intended to attract new growth to an industry that already includes home-grown studios like Silicon Knights and Digital Extremes.