The cultural exception for trade in cultural productsincluding film could be enshrined in international law for the first time.

The European Commission, acting on behalf of all of theEuropean Union states has negotiated the inclusion of a paragraph in a Unescoconvention recognising the unique importance of cultural diversity.

At ameeting in Madrid, representatives of more than 70 countries supported themove.

"It's very significant. For the first time, culturaldiversity has been enshrined in international law," a Commission spokesman

Othersupporters include Canada, whose culture Liza Frulla said:

"I amabsolutely delighted by the incredible show of support. It is clear thatmomentum is building in favour of the Convention on the Protection andPromotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions."

The proposals have been resisted by seven countries butsignificantly it faces opposition from the US.

The Unesco general assembly will meet to discussratification of the treaty at the end of October.

The European Commission admits it is too early to decidewhat the long-term effect of the decision would be on international tradeagreements.