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JIS News

Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Grange, is in Brussels, Belgium, attending a conference celebrating the fifth anniversary of the signing of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
The Convention provides the platform for the treatment of culture within the framework of world trade and international co-operation.
Miss Grange, who addresses the conference Wednesday (December 8), is leading the drive for preferential treatment for cultural products under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). She has been designated CARICOM Champion Minister for Culture, and will speak on the relationship between culture and trade, highlighting existing opportunities for growth of cultural sectors and how they can benefit from trade agreements.
Miss Grange is the only minister from the western hemisphere invited to the conference. Her presence stems from her participation in the International Colloquium on the Creative Industries in Brussels in 2009, where she made the case for cultural practitioners from CARIFORUM countries to benefit from preferential treatments under the EPA.
The UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions is supported by most countries of the G20, South America, Africa and the Caribbean.
The Economic Partnership Arrangement (EPA), signed by the European Union and CARIFORUM, was based on the tenets of the Convention. Among the articles of the EPA, are those that offer special regimes for greater access to European markets by CARIFORUM cultural goods and services, as well as provide support for capacity building efforts for cultural industries in developing countries.
The Minister told JIS News that it was of major significance that Jamaica was invited to participate in the conference.
“I believe the world recognises Jamaica for its cultural capital and the creative and diverse ways we have utilised that capital to empower our people socially and economically,” she said.
She noted that it was important to share in the discussions, “so that we can be a voice in shaping the future for the cultural industries, on which so many of our people have relied for generations.”
“We firmly believe that there needs to be easier access to European markets, under the EPA, for cultural practitioners from the Caribbean, and we will continue to beat that drum until the message is heard and we have some action,” she added.
Among the panel discussions scheduled are Culture and Sustainable Development and Culture and Freedom of Speech/Expression.
Miss Grange is accompanied by Principal Director in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Sidney Bartley, and Jamaica’s Ambassador to Brussels, Her Excellency Marcia Gilbert-Roberts.