Diplomatic relations between Canada and Portugal were officially established in 1946 but there is a long history of interactions extending back to the early days of the Portuguese voyages of discovery in the 1500s. People-to-people links have grown stronger over time and today, these ties between Canada and Portugal are underpinned by a vibrant Canadian community of Portuguese origin estimated at more than 400,000 people. Today, tens of thousands of Canadians live in Portugal further punctuating our cultural and social ties. Canada-Portugal parliamentary friendship groups are active in both Canada's Parliament and the Portuguese Assembly of the Republic.
Canada and Portugal share common values in the areas of human rights, democracy, rule of law, and governance. Both countries are host to multicultural societies and share a commitment to international trade. Internationally, Canada and Portugal collaborate in various multilateral organizations including the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and have worked alongside one another in international missions.
Cooperation agreements between Canadian and Portuguese universities extend across a wide variety of disciplines ranging from oceanography to business administration to industrial design. Over twenty Canadian universities currently have international exchange agreements or research partnerships with Portuguese universities. There are currently two active Canadian studies programs at the Universidade de Coimbra and the Universidade de Lisboa.
Economic and Commercial relations
Despite current economic challenges, Portugal's economy is evolving and shifting towards new industries which are technology intensive, globally oriented, flexible and innovative. Portuguese firms are working to expand throughout Europe, the Americas, Africa and elsewhere and will increasingly provide the base for Portugal's future economy as well as opportunities for future expansion of Canada's trade, investment and innovation relationship with Portugal.
Canada and Portugal enjoy a healthy trading relationship. In 2012, bilateral merchandise trade reached $434.4 million. Canada’s merchandise exports to Portugal at $124.3 million, were down from $225.4 million in 2011, due to significantly reduced domestic consumption in Portugal. Oilseeds, cereals, canola oil, machinery, paper and paperboard were among the leading export goods. Imports from Portugal in 2012 were $310.1 million, down from $357.6 million in 2011 with wines, iron and steel, mineral fuels and oils, automotive products, footwear and cork among leading import goods.
Canadian investment in Portugal is active in the ICT, rail transportation and mining sectors. The number of Canadian companies in Portugal's mining sector in particular has grown substantially in recent years and currently represents the most dominant presence in this sector.
There is significant Portuguese investment in Canada, most notably in packaging, automotive components, and the forest product sector.
The Portuguese government has targeted entrepreneurship, business R&D and innovation as priorities. A new Science and Technology National Council was established in 2011, chaired by the Prime Minister, to co-ordinate the development of comprehensive S&T and innovation strategies. In December 2011, the Strategic Programme for Entrepreneurship and Innovation was adopted with the objective to improve Portugal’s overall competitiveness. The programme aims to foster an entrepreneurial society, to broaden the range of innovative companies with a focus on exports, and to strengthen Portugal’s integration in international entrepreneurship and innovation communities.
Updated March 2013
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