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Canada - Spain Relations

Canada and Spain enjoy a strong relationship based on shared interests and values both at the bilateral and multilateral levels.

Political relations

Spain and Canada are committed to defending global security, democratic values and human rights within a multilateral framework. Both countries support international development policies especially in the sectors of health and education. We are excellent partners at the multilateral level and work together within the United Nations (UN), the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO), among other institutions.

Both countries are active participants in a variety of multilateral peace and security operations. We share an interest in further developing our relations with countries and institutions in Latin America. Canada is a member state of the Organisation of American States (OAS) while Spain is an observer. We both have observer status in the Pacific Alliance.

Our two governments maintain an active bilateral dialogue. Canada and Spain have a decentralised political structure that requires ongoing management, and have both been successful in facing the challenges and opportunities associated with cultural diversity and the integration of their immigrants.

In the area of fisheries management and conservation, Canada and Spain maintain a constructive relation and cooperate extensively. Both are committed to the sustainable management of the marine environment and its resources.

Prime Minister Harper and his Spanish counterpart President Mariano Rajoy last met on the margins of the G-20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia in November 2014.

Commercial relations, investment and innovation

Economic relations between Canada and Spain have increased significantly over the past few years and continue to have an enormous potential for growth. Our two economies are similar in development and have natural synergies in high priority sectors such as aerospace, agri-food, seafood, pharmaceuticals, information and communication technologies and financial services. Spain and Canada are ports of entry to large regional markets, the European Union and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  

Canada and the European Union recently concluded the negotiation of a historic economic agreement, the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), the most ambitious ever negotiated between two developed economies. CETA will enhance growth, innovation and competitiveness. The Spanish government and businesses have demonstrated their support for this agreement.

In 2014, bilateral trade reached CAD$3.3 billion, representing a 26% increase compared to 2013. Canadian exports to Spain were CAD$1.127 million, led by minerals and fuels, cereals and vegetables, machinery and equipment, and aerospace products. Spanish merchandise exports to Canada amounted to CAD$2.199 billion and consisted mainly of pharmaceutical products, machinery, minerals and fuels, vehicles and food.

The strength of the bilateral economic relationship lies in a strong two-way investment. According to a recent survey of Spanish CEOs by the Spanish Exporters' and Investors' Club, Canada is the most valued investment destination for Spanish companies. Over the last few years, a number of investment projects have been initiated between the two countries, particularly in the energy, agri-food, mining, infrastructure and communications sectors.

Canadian stock of foreign direct investment in Spain amounted to CAD$4.757 billion in 2013. Investments are focused in various areas including mines, transportation, financial services, information and communication technologies, and retail real estate.

Spanish direct investment in Canada amounted to CAD$590 million in 2013. At present, the most active areas are the energy sector and public-private infrastructure projects. Other key sectors include information and communications technologies, retail clothing and agri-food.

Spain and Canada rank as the second and third largest investors in Latin America, respectively. The two countries are favourably positioned to take advantage of their strengths and common interests in Latin America to create mutually beneficial alliances and projects in this region.

Collaboration in innovation is a cornerstone of Canada’s overall bilateral relationship with Spain. The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) have worked together for many years in key areas of research, such as health, renewable energy and the environment. Research in marine biology represents a common priority of our bilateral cooperation. Opportunities abound for the two countries to collaborate jointly under the EU’s Horizon 2020 research framework.

Bilateral technological research and development cooperation is governed under the international Eureka program, where Canada’s NRC and Spain’s Centre for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI) support market-oriented joint projects.

A number of Canadian provinces and Spanish autonomous communities have also developed their own dynamic networks of exchanges.

Youth mobility, education and culture

Spain and Canada enjoy dynamic academic relations. Spanish students increasingly choose Canada as a destination for their studies. More than 100 agreements between Canadian and Spanish universities attest to the excellent collaboration between the two academic communities. Thanks to a bilateral agreement on youth mobility, young Spaniards and Canadians have increasingly taken the opportunity to work and study in Canada and Spain respectively.

Canadian society and culture are topics of research and are included in comparative studies in Spanish universities and research centres. Especially relevant for both countries are issues related to the management of immigration, territorial organization and cultural diversity. In the field of international relations, the shared interest for Latin America and the common vision on approaches to global challenges lead to fruitful exchanges.

Spaniards have shown great interest in Canadian art and culture. Nobel Prize winner, Alice Munro, and Prince of Asturias awardee, Margaret Atwood, are well-known and appreciated by Spanish readers. Photographers Jeff Wall, Edward Burtynsky and visual artist Janet Cardiff are just some of the Canadians whose pieces have been showcased in Spanish museums and galleries. Canadian architect Frank Gehry won the Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts in 2014. Theatre director Robert Lepage, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and Les 7 doigts de la main, among others, are regulars in the Spanish scene. Canadian musicians Diana Krall, Arcade Fire and Prince of Asturias winner Leonard Cohen are very popular in Spain.

The Spanish film market is highly receptive to Canadian cinema thanks to film directors such as David Cronenberg and Atom Egoyan. Collaboration in the audio-visual field between both countries is facilitated by the coproduction agreement between Canada and Spain in cinema, television and other audio-visual formats.

June 2015

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