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JIS News

Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Grange, has appealed to the European Union (EU) to review the provisions of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), to see how CARIFORUM countries can better benefit from assistance for the development and promotion of culture.
The Minister was speaking with JIS News on December 9 following her address at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) conference in Brussels, Belgium, to mark the 5th anniversary of the signing of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
“I used the opportunity to highlight some of the concerns and the fact that although the EPA agreement is a good agreement, countries like Jamaica cannot seize all of the opportunities it offers because of certain limitations that exist and the restrictions that exists,” she said.
She noted for example, that while performers are allowed to work for up to six months in a European Union (EU) country, their entry is subject to immigration regulations and they are not guaranteed a visa.
Minister Grange explained further that where the EU provides funds for development projects or for market penetration, this is done through reimbursement. The recipient country is expected to advance the funds and be reimbursed at the end of the project and many countries are unable to do this, she lamented.
She said that there is a similar arrangement with regards to film production, where countries are required to advance a percentage of the production cost, which may not be financially feasible.
The Culture Minister, in her presentation, proposed that the EU look at ways to create easier access to their market and see how they can assist with developmental funds, to help CARIFORUM countries take advantage of the opportunities under the EPA.
The EPA, signed by the EU and CARIFORUM, was based on the tenets of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. 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.
In the meantime, Miss Grange pledged Jamaica’s “unwavering support” for the Convention. She said that the protection and promotion of cultural diversity resonates in a special way with Jamaicans.
“Our national motto ‘Out of Many, One People’, encapsulates the diverse nature of our people as the platform upon which our culture is constructed. We therefore understand very succinctly the importance of providing space for the various peoples to present and enjoy their cultural offerings and creations as a part of their human rights and freedoms,” she stated.