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, 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 interests. Our countries also are members of many hemispheric and global organizations. Canada and Uruguay are both active players in multilateral fora such as the United Nations (UN) and the Organization of American States (OAS). Uruguay’s important commitments to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) highlight our countries’ commonality of interests in hemispheric security and development issues.
Uruguay is a strong democracy that is successfully balancing social and economic priorities. Among Latin American countries, it traditionally leads indices of low corruption and democratic governance. It has a literacy rate of 98 percent and strong universities with 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, Paraguay and Venezuela. The location of the Parlasur and of the permanent Secretariat of Mercosur in Montevideo reflects the prominent and strategic position of Uruguay in South American regional integration.
On the economic side, Canada and Uruguay share membership in the Cairns Group, a coalition of 19 agricultural exporting countries that was established in 1986 in the context of the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations to promote their shared objectives in reforming agricultural trade rules.
In April 2014, then Minister of External Relations of Uruguay, Luis Almagro, made an official visit to Canada, meeting former Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird, who had visited Uruguay in August 2013. Former Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs) Diane Ablonczy made a visit to Montevideo in December 2011 and on March 1, 2015, Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular) Lynne Yelich attended the inauguration of Tabaré Vázquez as President of Uruguay.
Uruguay is identified as an emerging Priority Market in Canada’s Global Markets Action Plan. Bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and Uruguay totalled $162.6 million in 2014. Canadian goods exports to Uruguay reached $58.4 million and included agricultural machinery, dried lentils, potassium chloride, parts of gas turbines and newsprint. Top Canadian imports from Uruguay totalled $104.2 million and include frozen boneless bovine meat, fresh or dried citrus, wool, frozen hake fillets and fresh blueberries. Please see the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service’s page on Uruguay for more information about the Uruguayan market.
Canada and Uruguay have deepened their bilateral economic ties through a number of bilateral agreements such as: Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) signed in 1999; a bilateral Social Security Agreement that came into force in January 2002; a bilateral Audiovisual Co-Production Agreement to encourage joint film productions (2005); and an Air Transport Agreement (2012). A Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) was signed in February 2013 and came into effect in 2014.
Canada does not have a development assistance program in Uruguay, but does provide support through multilateral programs and the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), managed by the Embassy of Canada to Uruguay. Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), headquartered in Montevideo, has funded 137 research projects worth $15.4 million in Uruguay since 1976. IDRC-supported research in Uruguay focuses on environmental protection of the Rio de la Plata estuary, Mercosur trade and integration issues, evaluating labour policies, health care, and the country’s efforts to help strengthen democracy and rebuild in Haiti.
Our bilateral relationship is also built on a growing network of people-to-people ties that is fostered through educational exchanges and tourist visits, amongst other means. Like Canada, Uruguay is a country with a great appreciation for higher education. The Embassy of Canada is engaged with the Uruguayan academic sector and provides information services for Uruguayan students interested in studying or conducting high level research in Canada.
The Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP), a scholarship program announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the Summit of the Americas in 2009, provides short term scholarships for students from Latin America and the Caribbean to study in Canada. In 2014, 18 Uruguayan students received ELAP scholarships. In April 2014, IDRC announced a grant program for Uruguayan masters and doctoral students whose research touches themes related to natural resources extraction. IDRC partnered with the Uruguayan National Agency of Research and Innovation, the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining to launch this grant.
Canadians of Uruguayan origin constitute a well-organized community that contributes to the bilateral relationship, particularly in the commercial and cultural areas. In 2014, more than 2,000 Uruguayans visited Canada. In Uruguay, the Canadian community is estimated to number around 500. Between 10,000 and 11,000 Canadian tourists visit Uruguay each year.
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