Canada and Italy are like-minded countries on key global and regional issues and partners in a range of multilateral institutions such as the UN, G7 and NATO. Canada's large and dynamic Italo-Canadian community is particularly interested and engaged in all aspects - cultural, social, economic and political - of our bilateral relations. Important business and Science and Technology delegations in both directions between Canada and Italy have given new impetus for the advancement of innovative commercial opportunities and partnerships. Cultural and academic exchanges and people-to-people ties are strong.
The Government of Italy and key Italian business associations have given their strong support for the proposed Canada-EU Trade Agreement and the Canada-EU Framework Agreement.
Canadian and Italian leaders meet regularly at multilateral summits, including the G7 and G20. Former Prime Minister Letta conducted an official bilateral visit to Canada in September 2013. The visit centered primarily on advancing a shared prosperity agenda. In 2011, Prime Minister Harper made a successful visit to RCAF forces in Sicily, in support of NATO Operation Unified Protector. Several Canadian ministers have visited Italy in recent years.
Canada and Italy have a strong commercial relationship. The greatest potential lies in promoting two-way investment, as well as innovation and technology-based partnerships.
In 2013, two-way trade between Canada and Italy increased 12.2% from the year previous, to a total value of nearly $7.8 billion, making Italy our 9th largest global merchandise trading partner.
Canadian merchandise exports to Italy increased by 14.3% to almost $2 billion in 2013. Canadian exports have since boomed in 2014 compared to the year previous, up by over 140% for the period January to November, making Italy Canada’s 7th largest export market in the first eleven months of 2014 (up from 15th for full-year 2013).
Canadian imports from Italy also increased, up 11.6% totalling $5.8 billion in 2013. Growth continued into 2014, with merchandise imports from Italy increasing over 10% compared to the previous year for the period January to November. Machinery, beverages and pharmaceuticals ranked as the top 3 items, accounting for 43.2% of total imports from Italy in 2013. In 2013, Italy ranked 12th in the world and 6th in Europe as a source of total imports to Canada, including goods and services.
In 2013, the stock of foreign direct investment in Canada from Italy totalled $1.14 billion, making Italy the 21st largest source of investment into Canada. The stock of Canadian Direct Investment Abroad in Italy increased from $361 million in 2011 to $487 million by the end of 2013. Among all destination countries for stock of Canadian direct investment abroad, Italy ranked 42nd. In terms of European destinations for CDIA, Italy stood 16th.
Both the Italian and Canadian governments have recognized the importance of Science, Technology and Innovation partnerships as levers to prosperity. This recognition has resulted in the very successful Tavolo Canada initiative (literally: the Canada Table) at the level of our foreign and trade ministries. This joint program to promote Canada-Italy research and innovation partnerships in priority sectors has been very successful in spurring new R&D linkages and joint projects over the past five years between major Italian and Canadian research institutes, universities, innovative companies, and public and private sector laboratories in six pre-established priority sectors. Areas of focus are Health and Life Sciences, Green Technologies, Ocean Technologies, AgriFood, New Materials for Transportation and Information Communications Technologies.
In 2013, the Embassy of Canada to Italy introduced the Canada-Italy Innovation Award, which aims to develop new and existing relationships between Canadian and Italian experts into long-term collaborations in the fields of S&T and Innovation.
Canada and Italy have a strong and longstanding academic relationship, reinforced by inter-university and private-public academic agreements that generate new ideas and research projects, build relationships, and encourage youth mobility. Canadian studies programs throughout Italy, and the Italian Association for Canadian Studies, further contribute to these important people-to-people ties.
In January 2012, Canada and Italy renewed the very popular bilateral Working-Holiday Program, a category of International Experience Canada's youth mobility initiative created for both students and non-students to experience another culture through travel and work. Young Canadians and Italians, between the age of 18 and 35 inclusive, are now entitled to spend up to twelve months in the other country, with a work permit valid for the first six months. The current quota is set at 1000 participants from each country per year, up from 600 in 2010.
Latest figures indicate that Italy is in the top-twenty list of importers of Canadian cultural goods and the 8th most important source of cultural imports into Canada. Canada has a permanent Pavilion at the Venice Biennale where a Canadian artist and architect (in alternate years) represent the country.
The two governments are currently working on new and amended bilateral agreements to promote enhanced bilateral contacts, travel and business and to facilitate official relations between the two governments. These bilateral instruments cover, among others, the areas of social security, and reciprocal employment. An updated extradition treaty entered into force on November 17, 2010. The new Convention on double taxation entered into force in 2011, and its provisions have retroactive effect as of January 1, 2011. The two countries are also working on developing a bilateral agreement that would allow for the mutual recognition of driver’s licences, in consultations with Canadian provinces and territories. There are two cultural agreements in force between Canada and Italy: one on film co-productions and one on cultural co-operation.
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