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Canada - Spain Relations

Canada and Spain are committed to a relationship of active cooperation based on shared interests and values in the international sphere as well as bilateral relations. The collaboration between both countries manifests itself in the political, economic, security, multilateral and bilateral relations areas, as well as in higher education and youth exchanges. It is also important to highlight the dynamic regional relationships between Canada and Spain.

Due to a recent agreement pertaining to bilateral mobility, more and more Spanish and Canadian youths have taken the opportunity to travel, work and study in the other country. Also noteworthy is the significant increase of tourism between Canada and Spain over the past few years.

Political Relations

Spain and Canada are both committed to defending global security, democratic values and human rights in a multilateral manner.  Both countries are defenders of political injustice internationally especially in the sectors of health and education. They are excellent partners in the multilateral sphere and work together within the United Nations (UN), the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), 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 operations of peace and post-crisis rehabilitation for example in Haiti. The two countries also share an interest in developing their relations with Latin America.

The two governments maintain an active dialogue on bilateral relations. Canada and Spain both have a decentralised political structure. They manage situations of active regionalism and face the challenges raised by multiculturalism and the integration of their immigrants.

In the sector of fisheries management and conservation, Canada and Spain maintain a constructive cooperation based on dialogue and cooperation. Both countries work to ensure that fishing resources are exploited in a sustainable and responsible manner.

Commercial Relations, Investment, Science and Technology 

Economic relations between the two countries have experienced a notable increase over the past few years and continue to have an enormous potential for growth. Canada and Spain are among the largest global economic powers. Our two economies are similar in development and have natural synergies in high priority sectors. Spain and Canada each have an advantageous position within the European Union and the North American Free Trade Agreement and both are a port of access to these large regional markets. The Canada-Spain Chamber of Commerce in Madrid attests to the current dynamism of our economic and commercial exchanges.

Canada and the European Union are currently negotiating a large economic agreement, (Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement) which, once concluded, will strongly promote competition, innovation and growth. Spanish government and businesses have demonstrated their full support for the process.

In 2011, commercial trade between both countries reached $2.7 billion. Canadian exports to Spain were $977 million, led by minerals, vehicles and equipment, vegetable, machinery, metal and paper. Spain merchandise exports in 2011 amounted to $1.7 billion and consisted mainly of chemical products, mineral, machinery, food, base metal. 

According to a recent study by the Spanish Exporters' and Investors' Club, Canada is the most valued investment destination for Spanish companies. Over the last few years, a wide-scope of investment projects have been initiated between the two countries, particularly in the transportation, communications, infrastructure, renewable energy, gas, chemical and information technology industries. In 2011, Spanish direct investment in Canada was $1.6 billion and Canadian investment in Spain reached $5.1 billion.

Spain and Canada rank as the second and third investors in Latin America. The two countries can take advantage of their similar position and common interests in Latin America in order to create mutually beneficial alliances and projects in this region.

Close bilateral collaboration in the area of science and technology between the two countries has led to significant joint initiatives of interest. 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, particularly ecosystems and fishing practices, represents a common priority of their bilateral cooperation. It is also in the interest of both countries to commence collaborative research projects in the areas of aquiculture and agri-food.

Technological cooperation is channelled through the Canadeka program, a joint initiative run by National Research Council Canada and the Spanish Centre for Technological Development (CDTI).

The regional governments and institutions in both countries have also developed their own dynamic network of exchanges. Ontario and Catalonia, among others, have formalised their relationship by way of an agreement designed to stimulate scientific and technological cooperation.

Academic and Cultural Relations

Spain and Canada enjoy dynamic academic relations. Spanish students increasingly chose Canada as a destination for higher education or for language studies. More than 100 agreements between Canadian and Spanish universities attest to the excellent collaboration between the academic communities.

The Canadian Foundation and la Caixa Foundation offer scholarships to Spanish students to pursue postgraduate studies in Canadian universities. Other Spanish foundations and organisations as well as the Spanish government and many regional governments also offer Spanish students financial assistance to travel to Canada in order to improve their language skills in English or French.

Canadian society and culture are topics of research and are included in comparative studies in Spanish Universities and research centers. Especially relevant for both countries are issues related to the management of immigration, multiculturalism, nationalism, and multilingualism. 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.

Spain demonstrates great interest in Canada’s innovative and original Canadian art and cultural diversity. Canadian literature is well-known in Spain and it is highly appreciated by its readers. Margaret Atwood and Leonard Cohen received the prestigious Prince of Asturias Prize for literature in 2008 and 2011. Alice Munro and Robertson Davies are two of the many authors that are published in Spanish and Catalan.

New tendencies in Canadian art are of interest in Spain. Jeff Wall and Edward Burtynsky are among the Canadian artists whose pieces are presented in museums and galleries. Theatre director Robert Lepage is a regular in the Spanish scene and Cirque du Soleil continues to be a tremendous success for Spanish critics and the public.

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 will be facilitated by the coproduction agreement between Canada and Spain in cinema, television and other audio-visual formats.

April 2012

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