Canada and Austria share many common interests and similar perspectives on global issues and challenges. Austria is a key multilateral partner for Canada, and we work together closely on a range of issues, particularly human rights and the rule of law, in the UN and in other international bodies. We are similarly situated countries: like Canada, Austria borders on a neighbour (Germany) with a population and an economy roughly ten times its size with which it shares a language.
Trade and investment relations are strong. People-to-people ties are underpinned in particular through academic and youth exchanges. Austria’s membership in the European Union and its close ties to the Central and South-Eastern European region make Austria a valuable interlocutor for Canada on a wide range of political, economic, trade, environmental and security issues in Europe.
In 2011, Canadian merchandise exports totaled CAD 391 million to Austria, and our merchandise imports were CAD 1.3 billion. Among the main Canadian exports to Austria are aircraft products, machinery and vehicles.
In 2011, Austrian foreign direct investment in Canada amounted to CAD 204 million. Canadian direct investment in Austria amounted to CAD 911 million in 2010, and Canadian investors in Austria include Magna International (company founder Frank Stronach emigrated to Canada from Austria in 1954), Bombardier and Husky. Research in Motion opened an office in Vienna in August, 2011.
Austrians and Canadians share a passion for winter sports, and Vancouver-Whistler’s hosting of the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in 2010 provided an opportunity to highlight some of our joint interests. Austria financed the construction of an "Austrian Passive House" (ultra-energy-efficient house) at Whistler to be showcased during the games and in which a Forum on Austrian Passive House construction was held. A priority for both countries is to increase cooperation in science, technology, and innovation, with a focus on energy (including energy-efficient construction), and information and communication technology.
Academic ties are close and growing. Austria boasts three Canadian Studies Centres - at the Universities of Vienna, Innsbruck and Graz - and there is a significant array of exchange programmes between Austrian and Canadian universities. The Wirth Institute for Austrian and Central European Studies at the University of Alberta was founded in 1998 at the initiative of the Austrian Ministry of Science and the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is a leading centre for central European Studies in Canada and has one of the most significant collections of Austrian and Habsburg materials in North America.
Austrian academics and scholarly institutions actively take advantage of existing Austrian-Canadian partnership programs as well as selective doctoral and post-doctoral research fellowships. Through the “International Experience Canada” (IEC) programs, Austrian and Canadian youth can obtain a temporary work permit to gather job experience in the other country. The annual quota for all IEC programs combined is currently set for 150 IEC work permits in both directions.
Austrians are interested in Canada’s immigration and integration policies, and there is scope for further bilateral dialogue in this area.
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