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Canada - Spain Relations

Canada and Spain have a long-standing committed relationship based on shared interests and values both at the bilateral and multilateral levels.

Political relations

Spain and Canada are both 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. They 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, security operations and work together in the UN stabilization operation in Haiti. The two countries share an interest in developing their relations with Latin America. They both have observer status in the Pacific Alliance.

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 and opportunities associated with cultural diversity and the integration of their immigrants.

In the sector of fisheries management and conservation, Canada and Spain maintain a constructive relationship based on dialogue and cooperation. Both countries are committed to the sustainable management of the marine environment and its resources.

Prime Minister Harper and his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy last met on the margins of the Pacific Alliance Leaders Summit in Cali, Colombia in May 2013.

Commercial relations, investment and innovation

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. Our two economies are similar in development and have natural synergies in high priority sectors such as aerospace, agri-food, seafood, information and communication technologies and financial services. Spain and Canada each have an advantageous position within the European Union and the North American Free Trade Agreement and both are ports of entry to these large regional markets.

Canada and the European Union have concluded the negotiations of an important economic agreement, the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) which will strongly promote growth, innovation and competition. Spanish government and businesses have demonstrated their support for this agreement.

In 2013, bilateral commercial trade reached CAD$2.6 billion. Canadian exports to Spain were CAD$959 million, led by minerals, cereals and vegetables, machinery and equipment, and chemical and pharmaceutical products. Spanish merchandise exports to Canada amounted to CAD$1.68 billion and consisted mainly of chemical and pharmaceutical products, machinery, mineral and food.

The bilateral economic relationship hinges on 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 wide-scope of investment projects has been initiated between the two countries, particularly in the energy, agri-food, mining, infrastructure and communications industries.

Canadian stock of foreign direct investment in Spain amounted to CAD$4.76 billion in 2013. Investments are distributed among various areas such as 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 investors in Latin America. 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 between the two countries 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.

It is worthy to note that some Canadian provinces and Spanish autonomous communities have also developed their own dynamic network 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 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.

Spain demonstrates great interest in Canada’s innovative and original 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 Award for Literature in 2008 and 2011. The Canadian origin architect Frank Gehry won the Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts in 2014.  

New trends in Canadian art and culture are very well received in Spain. Rock bands such as Arcade Fire are extremely popular. Jeff Wall and Edward Burtynsky are some of the Canadian artists whose pieces are showcased in museums and galleries. Theatre director Robert Lepage is a regular in the Spanish scene and Cirque du Soleil continues to dazzle Spanish audiences.

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.

October 2014

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