Canada maintains very good relations with Qatar. These relations are mainly commercial. However, due to Qatar growing regional influence, Canada has developed regular political dialogue with the Qatari leadership.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird, visited Qatar in March 2012. During his visit, he officially opened the Canadian Embassy in Doha. The Governor General of Canada, David Johnston, and his wife visited Qatar, February 27 to March 01, 2011. During his visit, he met the Amir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and his wife, Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Missned, Chair of the Qatar Foundation. The former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lawrence Cannon, visited Qatar on several occasions. He attended the Contact Group Meeting on Libya in Doha on April 2011. In January 2011, he co-chaired, with his Qatari counterpart, the G8-BMENA in Doha.
In October 2010, an Air Transport agreement was concluded with the Qatar which allows Qatar Airways to operate 3 passenger flights and 3 cargo flights a week to Canada. Qatar Airways started its flights to Montréal in June 29, 2011.
Canadian Forces were based in Qatar from 1990-1991 during the first Iraq-Coalition Gulf War. Several Canadian military personnel are posted to Al Udeid US military base in Qatar.
Nearly 5,000 Canadians reside and work in Qatar. Trade relations between Canada and Qatar are expected to expand significantly over the coming years as Qatar’s economy continues to grow apace and as Canadian exporters and investors become more familiar with the unparalleled infrastructure-based opportunities it offers. Bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and Qatar has fluctuated significantly in recent years but remains substantial. In 2011, bilateral trade reached a record high of $459.5 million, of which $398 million, or 86%, were imports of liquefied natural gas from Qatar. Canada’s top merchandise exports to Qatar in 2011 are iron ore, aircraft, and machinery equipment. Qatar’s service imports from Canada consist primarily of engineering; architecture, and education services.
Among the most important projects in Qatar that involve Canada is a complete technical college in Doha operated by Newfoundland and Labrador’s College of the North Atlantic (curriculum design, teaching and overall management). The college, which opened in September 2002, has hired about 600 Canadian staff and enrols about 2000 students. The University of Calgary opened a nursing school in Qatar in May 2007. Prestigious companies like Norsk Hydro, Forrec, SNC-Lavalin and Toronto Sick Kids Hospital are also established in Qatar, along with other companies in the high tech and service sectors.
Qatar is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) which is a priority market under Canada’s trade Global Commerce Strategy.
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