EU OKs new UNESCO treaty

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A UNESCO convention that allows countries to protect their movies, music and other cultural activities will come into force in March after European Union nations ratified the treaty Tuesday in Brussels.

The convention on cultural diversity, drafted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, aims to consolidate the protection countries sometimes use to block Hollywood imports and strengthen rules on subsidies and quotas.

It was adopted last year in the face of strong protests from the U.S., which claimed that the convention will be used to erect barriers against its entertainment industry exports. However, it eventually was approved by 148 of the 154 UNESCO members. The EU ratification means the necessary threshold of 30 member confirmations has been reached for it to become operational.

The 40-page treaty does not create any new laws or instruments to protect movies or music, but the U.S. fears it could override the existing conventions that allow Hollywood to sell entertainment to the world.

Washington has said it gives subsidy- and quota-happy countries a chance to introduce powerful protection measures by stealth, short-circuiting traditional trade negotiating mechanisms.
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