Canada and Benin established diplomatic relations in 1962, shortly after Benin’s independence. Canada is represented in Benin by the Canadian Embassy in Ouagadougou,Burkina Faso. Benin is represented in Canada by its Embassy in Ottawa.
Canada and Benin enjoy good bilateral relations. Benin is one of Canada's major partners in multilateral organizations such as the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie and the United Nations. It played a particularly important role as Chair of the African Union Assembly in 2012. Major areas of discussion and cooperation include economic relations, development, migrant smuggling, and governance and security in Africa.
Recent high-level visits have served to strengthen the bilateral partnership:
Canada and Benin also maintain good inter-parliamentary relations and the Canada–Africa Parliamentary Association visited Benin in September 2010.
In recent years, Benin has been a partner of Canada in the fight against migrant smuggling and Canada has provided continuous support to Benin in that area. In 2012, Canada launched a capacity-building partnership for Beninese security services with the aim of suppressing migrant smuggling and increasing marine security.
To date, commercial relations with Benin have been limited, although they show much potential. In 2011, Canadian exports of merchandise to Benin totalled $14.08 million and consisted of transportation equipment, animal products, mechanical and electric machinery and textile products. Imports to Canada from Benin totalled $22,981 and consisted of paper products, mechanical and electric machinery, and fats, oils and wax. There are, however, many partnerships between Canadian and Benin educational institutions and a number of Benin students are studying in Canada.
In January 2013, Canada and Benin signed a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA), the first such agreement between Canada and a country in sub-Saharan Africa. The agreement will promote closer economic links between Canada and Benin and will encourage Canadian companies to examine the economic potential of the country more closely, particularly in the area of infrastructure.
Canadian official development assistance for Benin began soon after Benin’s independence in 1960. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) programming corresponds with the Government of Benin's 2011–2015 Growth Strategy for Poverty Reduction. The main focus areas in the strategy are: lasting increase in economic growth and transformation of the economy; development of infrastructures; strengthening of human capital; promotion of the quality of governance; and balanced and sustainable development of the national territory.
Although Benin was not included among CIDA's countries of focus, it benefits from a modest bilateral cooperation program as well as from various Canadian regional, pan-African and multilateral programs, and others linked to volunteer cooperation or la Francophonie. In 2010–2011, Canadian official development assistance to Benin amounted to $16.16 million, including $2.77 million in bilateral aid. In 2010, Benin was hit by major floods, and Canada sent $1.3 million in additional emergency aid through the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and CARE Canada. CIDA also has a support unit for the Canada-Benin Cooperation Program based in Cotonou.
Benin is an example of the successful implementation of democracy, stability and good governance in Africa, and Canada and Benin cooperate in those areas. Canada provided $9.3 million between 2008 and 2010 for projects to stimulate the peacekeeping capacity of Benin and other African countries. These projects, implemented by the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, involve training African police officers, civilians and members of the military assigned to peacekeeping operations.
Through its Global Peace and Security Fund (GPSF), Canada supported from 2010 to 2012 a project to strengthen Benin's institutional capacity in order to improve planning and managing peace operations as well as intra- and interdepartmental coordination. Benin also benefits from National Defence's Military Training and Cooperation Program (MTCP).
The Canada Fund for Local Initiatives was used in Benin in 2011-2012 to support initiatives in the areas of education on women’s rights, the fight against corruption and the promotion of freedom of the press.
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