Japanese university students grapple with complexities of international cultural markets

Sixteen Japanese students attended an information workshop at UNESCO headquarters, on Friday 3 March, focusing on the linkages between trade and culture.

The Section for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions hosted the exchange session.

The undergraduate and graduate students of Kobe University, accompanied by Professor Kazunari Sakai, learnt about the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, focusing particularly on Articles 16 on Preferential Treatment and Article 21 on International Consultation and Coordination.

“The 2005 Convention is so complex, but I started to better understand how culture can be treated in free trade agreements. The 2005 Convention is indeed a powerful tool to make sure that diverse cultural goods and services are available to us”, expressed a student from Kobe University.

Focusing on trade and culture

During the interactive session, the students divided into groups to discuss three cases studies focusing on international trade agreements and culture. At the end of the discussion, each group gave a presentation on the differences between the different trade agreements and the benefits of concluding a cultural cooperation protocol.

Throughout the discussion, the students debated how cultural goods and services are not mere economic commodities but that they also have cultural value.

Furthermore, the students learned that Parties to the 2005 Convention are expected to provide preferential treatment to developing countries so as to promote market access to artists and cultural professionals, as well as cultural goods and services from the global South.

Making the 2005 Convention accessible

As of February 2017 145 parties have already ratified the Convention. Japan is yet to do so. Raising awareness about the Convention among young students is one way of promoting the benefits of ratification.

In line with the Ratification Strategy of the 2005 Convention, UNESCO is planning a sub-regional meeting later this year in Beijing to discuss innovative policy practices for the creative sector.