French film-makers yesterday called on their government not to sign a landmark international investment agreement, which would cut down barriers to the heavily protected industry. Demanding a special waiver to the new Multilateral Agreement on Investment (Mai) being drawn up by the OECD, French film-makers yesterday said the government would kill off their industry if cinema from the United States and other countries was allowed greater access. The deadline for the agreement has been set for April 28. It proposes to liberalise investment flows and provide binding rules aimed at providing a level investment playing field for all 29 members of the OECD. But French film-makers are concerned the agreement could jeopardise their cultural heritage. 'With Mai, output would fall from 100 films a year to 15 or 20, which would be produced by the Americans and mostly done in English . . . it would be a triumph for the world company,' film producer Charles Gassot said. The French Government - which has also been criticised by the French Communist Party, an ally of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin - yesterday appeared to buckle under demands, promising it would seek a cultural exception which ensures the primacy of French cinema in France. 'The defence of cultural diversity is as intrinsic as the survival of the idea of culture itself,' French Culture Minister Catherine Trautmann said. The French Communist Party went even further and said the whole agreement should be abandoned, condemning it for providing a mandate for giant multinational companies, and squeezing domestic industry. Communist Party leader Robert Hue said the agreement would constitute a 'serious attack on the sovereignty of the countries which sign it'. He said there were 'ultraliberal' forces in the present trend towards globalisation, which had to be reined back. He called on the Prime Minister to find other European Union allies, which could provide an effective united front on the issue. 'I believe it would be in the country's interest for the government not to tie itself to the treaty as it stands,' Mr Hue said. France's film lobby has proved very effective in the past in settling complaints. The industry accounts for about 40 per cent of France's film market.