Canada and Uruguay established diplomatic relations in January 1951. In 1953 Canada appointed its first Ambassador to Uruguay, resident in Argentina. Bilateral relations have expanded considerably since this time and in particular since 1984 when Uruguay returned to democracy following 11 years of military rule.
In Uruguay, Canada is represented by the Embassy of Canada in Montevideo. Uruguay is represented in Canada by the Embassy of Uruguay in Ottawa, and also maintains consulates in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver.
Bilateral relations between Canada and Uruguay are built upon shared values and membership in hemispheric and global organizations. Uruguay is an active player in multilateral fora such as the OAS and the UN, and is the largest per capita contributor to UN peace support operations. Uruguay’s important commitment to the UN Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) brings an added commonality of interests for our two countries in the hemisphere.
Uruguay is a strong democracy that is successfully balancing social and economic priorities. Among Latin American countries, it traditionally leads indices of low corruption, good governance and democratic development. It has a well-educated population, strong universities and a significant tradition of both French and English language education.
Uruguay is a full member of Mercosur, a customs union which also includes Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. The location of the permanent Secretariat of Mercosur in Montevideo reflects the prominent and strategic position of Uruguay in South America. In June 2011, Canada announced that it is moving forward with exploratory discussions with Mercosur to enhance the commercial relationship.
Canada and Uruguay have a Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA) which came into force in 1999; a bilateral Social Security Agreement that came into force in January 2002; and a bilateral Audiovisual Co-Production Agreement to encourage joint film productions, which came into force in October 2005.
With regards to Canada’s trade relationship with Uruguay, bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and Uruguay totaled $166.9 million in 2010. Merchandise exports reached $115 million and included aircraft and machinery. Imports to Canada from Uruguay totaled $51.9 million and included meat, fruit, nuts and animal hairs.
In Canada, Canadians of Uruguayan origin constitute a well-organized community that is a stakeholder and contributor to the bilateral relationship, particularly in the commercial and cultural areas. In Uruguay, the Canadian community is estimated to number around 500. Approximately 10,000 Canadians visit Uruguay annually.
Development assistance for Uruguay is provided through multilateral programs and through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, which is managed by the Embassy of Canada to Uruguay. Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is also active in Uruguay and maintains its regional headquarters in Montevideo. IDRC-supported research in Uruguay focuses on Mercosur trade and integration issues, tax reform, health care, and the country’s efforts to help strengthen democracy and rebuild in Haiti.
Uruguay is a country with a great appreciation for higher education and education in general. Since 2005, Uruguay realized over 10 successful projects under the Understanding Canada Program. Canada is actively engaging with the Uruguayan academic sector in the promotion of Canadian studies and working directly with the universities to identify areas of collaboration.
The Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP), announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the Summit of the Americas in 2009, provides short term scholarship opportunities for students from Latin America and the Caribbean, including Uruguay, to study or conduct research in Canada. In Uruguay, the program is predicated on linkages between Canadian and Uruguayan academic institutions, which facilitate the creation of scholarship opportunities. These academic relations help foster research collaboration and student exchange. From 2009 to 2010, Uruguay was a beneficiary of the program with 20 ELAP scholarships awarded. In the same period, Canada hosted over 75 Uruguayan students for periods of six months or more.
Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs), Diane Ablonczy did a working visit to Montevideo in December 2011.
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