Canada's relations with Iceland began over one thousand years ago when Icelander Leif Eriksson landed in L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland. The positive relationship that Canada and Iceland share continues to be influenced by the theme of exploration and discovery. Trade and investment links between our two nations continue to increase.
In the international arena, Canada and Iceland work together within various fora and often share similar views. Canada and Iceland support the harmonious development of their relations with Russia. Iceland's 2002-2004 chairmanship of the Arctic Council provided further opportunities for close collaboration between our two nations.
Canada and Iceland are close partners within NATO. In the past few years, Iceland has become active in international peacekeeping. As the only NATO country that does not have an army, Iceland has contributed police officers, nurses and legal experts in Kosovo and airport management in Kosovo and Afghanistan.
The vibrant community of Icelandic descent in Canada (concentrated mainly in Gimli, Manitoba) plays a large role in keeping cultural ties strong and dynamic. The Icelandic National League of North America (formed in Winnipeg in 1918) plays a leading role in most cultural activities among the Icelandic people in Canada and the United States.
Iceland is also a member of the International Network on Cultural Policy, a Canadian initiative, which provides culture ministers with an international forum through which to discuss emerging cultural policy issues.
The investment of Icelandic firms in the fisheries sector in Atlantic Canada has been a key component in the modernization of the fish processing facilities. High technology investments in Montreal, Vancouver and Atlantic Canada have also been important. In 2005, bilateral trade amounted to $145.5 million, an increase of 14.8 % compared to 2004. Canadian exports to Iceland totalled $89.8 million in 2005, and were primarily composed of vehicles, machinery and aluminium. Recent trade missions, mainly from Atlantic Canada, have yielded new opportunities for Canadian companies in Iceland. The Atlantic Provinces account for the largest part of Canadian exports to Iceland. Canadian imports from Iceland, primarily ships and boats, fish and seafood products, and machinery, totalled $55.6 million in 2005. Canadian investment in Iceland totalled $1.5 billion. Iceland Air is expected to start direct flights to Halifax in May 2007, 3 times per week.