Canadian animation producers say economic barriers and restrictions on co-production ventures are restricting their access to China's rapidly growing animation industry.Canada and China signed a film agreement in 1987 that mostly deals with feature films, which Canadian producers are reluctant to invest in because they do not sell well in the domestic market in Canada, says Xiao Juan Zhou, president of Delphis Films, a distributor of family films in Montreal. Zhou, who travels regularly to China for business, says since feature films don't perform well here, Canadian producers are reluctant to enter into joint ventures to produce them.In addition, China's State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT), a national body which oversees issues regarding agreements on film productions, has cancelled co-production projects under the 1987 agreement with Canada.Canada has signed co-production agreements with 53 countries. These agreements are considered important because they help producers share production costs by raising money in their respective countries. When the films are produced, they are considered national productions in each country and are eligible for tax credits.However, Chinese producers face difficulties in raising sufficient cash, says Joan Vogelesang, president and CEO of Toonboom, a Montreal-based supplier of animation production software with business interests in China."One of the barriers in China is the amount they are willing to pay to air any productions, which at the moment is so low, that it's difficult for Western countries to be able to do any cooperation to be able to generate revenue."Fuelled by the advent of new media and money from the government, Chinese animation has grown tremendously since 2002. At this week's Ottawa International Animation Festival, Zuhai Tuo, a deputy director in China's ministry of culture, said the animation industry caters to an estimated audience of 360,000 million young people and is worth between $34-35 billion. Tuo adds that China's tightly controlled state media has four animation channels and over 30 others carrying children's programs. As a sign that the animation industry is growing, there are now 400 universities offering degrees in animation.But despite this growth and investment potential, in addition to the agreement, Canadian animation producers have been reluctant to venture into the Chinese market. Equally, Chinese producers have shown little enthusiasm for joint productions with their Canadian counterparts. Sun Liyan, a researcher with the SARTE says there are currently only four productions under negotiation between both countries, a fact confirmed by Tuo in a separate interview."At this moment, Chinese producers are not really having a lot of co-operation with Canada, but in the future we will have more," says Tuo.Despite the unprecedented growth, Tuo says China realizes their animation industry is still young and there is need to tap into countries with more experience."We are open to different styles from all over the world," he says, adding that Canadian producers are welcome in China and that opportunities exist for outsourcing in the People's Republic.