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, G8 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 G8 and G20. 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, including Minister Baird, Minister Fast, Minister Mackay and Minister Fantino. Prime Minister Letta is making an official bilateral visit to Canada in September 2013.
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. Two-way merchandise trade between Canada and Italy amounted to $6.9 billion in 2012 (ranked 10th amongst all trading partners). In 2012, Canadian merchandise exports to Italy were valued at $1.7 billion, consisting mainly of cereals, machinery, mineral fuels and oils, wood pulp, electrical and electronic machinery and equipment. That same year, Canada’s merchandise imports from Italy totalled $5.2 billion and consisted principally of machinery, beverages (mainly wines), pharmaceutical products, vehicles and parts, scientific and precision instruments. Bilateral service trade totalled $1.2 billion in 2010 (latest data available), with service imports amounting to $843 million and service exports amounting to $373 million. With the stock of foreign direct investment in Canada from Italy valued at over $1.2 billion at the end of 2012, Italy ranks as the 22nd largest source of investment in Canada and the 12th largest among European countries.
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.
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.
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 the ratification of 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, mutual recognition of drivers' licences 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. 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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