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Canada-Italy Relations


Canada and Italy are often like-minded on key global and regional issues and work closely together in a range of multilateral institutions, including the United Nations, the G7, G20 and NATO. Canada’s large and dynamic Italo-Canadian community is engaged in all aspects—cultural, social, economic and political—of bilateral relations. Important business and science and technology delegations exchanged by Canada and Italy have given new momentum to innovative commercial opportunities and partnerships. Cultural and academic exchanges and people-to-people ties are strong.

Trade, investment and science and technology relations

Canada and Italy have a strong commercial relationship. The relationship’s greatest potential lies in two-way investment as well as in innovation and technology-based partnerships. The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement has been provisionally applied since September 21, 2017.

Italy is Canada’s 12th-largest export market in the world and the 6th-largest in Europe. In 2018, Canada’s merchandise exports to Italy were valued at over $3 billion, and merchandise imports from Italy were valued at $9 billion, making Italy Canada’s eighth-largest merchandise trading partner globally. Pharmaceutical products, mineral fuels and oils, and machinery were the top three products Canada exported to Italy in 2018, amounting to 56.2% of total exports to the country. Major highlights include a surge of 100.6% in pharmaceutical products exports worth $929 million, a rise of 27.5% in mineral fuels and oils reaching $540 million and, an increase of 295.7% in vehicles totalling $116 million.

Canadian imports from Italy continued to improve with upward growth of 10.2% totalling $9.0 billion compared to $8.2 billion in 2017. Machinery, beverages, and motor vehicles and parts were the top 3 items, accounting for 37.9% of total imports from Italy. Italy ranks eighth in the world and third in Europe as a source of imports to Canada.

Bilateral trade in services between Canada and Italy in 2018 amounted to nearly $1.9 billion, with Canadian exports accounting for $484 million and imports accounting for $1.4 billion, The stock of foreign direct investment in Canada from Italy was valued at $1.5 billion in 2018, while the stock of Canadian direct investment in Italy was $1.1 million for the same year. Italy remains a priority country for investment attraction into Canada, and there is strong and growing interest from Italian firms in  areas such as energy, agri-food, automotive, manufacturing, as well as information and communications technology.

Canada and Italy collaborate closely in science, technology and innovation (STI) initiatives with a shared realization that advances in STI are key to economic prosperity. Canada is a preferred STI partner for Italy because of established personal connections between the countries, the countries’ openness to collaboration and their shared sectors of interest. A Canada-Italy STI action plan, signed in January 2015, identifies the Arctic, marine science, life sciences and aerospace, as well as agriculture and agri-food, as areas for joint collaboration. There is a broad drive to increase bilateral STI cooperation in priority technology sectors by targeting subject matter experts, public research labs and universities through proactive partnering initiatives in key sectors, such as aerospace, green building and infrastructure, ocean technology and space. Canada is also one of the Italian National Research Council’s four priority countries for collaboration.

In 2013, the Embassy of Canada to Italy introduced the Canada-Italy Innovation Award, which aims to develop new and existing relationships between Canadian and Italian experts into long-term collaborations in the fields of science and technology and innovation.

Cultural, academic and youth exchanges

Canada and Italy have a strong and long-standing academic relationship, reinforced by inter-university and private-public academic agreements that generate new ideas and research projects, build relationships and encourage youth mobility. Canadian studies programs throughout Italy, and the Italian Association for Canadian Studies, further contribute to these important people-to-people ties.

In January 2012, Canada and Italy renewed the very popular bilateral Working Holiday Program, a part of International Experience Canada’s youth mobility initiative. The program was created to allow both students and non-students to experience another culture through travel and work. Canadians and Italians between the ages of 18 and 35, inclusive, are now entitled to spend up to 12 months in the other country, with a work permit valid for the first six months.

There are two cultural agreements in force between Canada and Italy: one on film co-productions and one on cultural cooperation.

Bilateral instruments

In recent years, Canada and Italy have adopted new instruments or amended existing instruments to promote enhanced bilateral contacts, travel and business and to facilitate official relations between the two governments. These bilateral instruments cover a variety of issues, from double taxation to airworthiness and judicial cooperation. All bilateral treaties between Canada and Italy are available on the Government of Canada’s treaty web portal at:

An updated extradition treaty entered into force in 2010. A new convention on double taxation entered into force in 2011, and its provisions are retroactive to January 1, 2011.In 2017, Canada and Italy signed an agreement for reciprocal recognition of drivers’ licences. Drivers’ licence exchanges will start taking place as Italy finalizes memorandums of understanding with individual provinces and territories.

The social security agreement (SSA) between Canada and Italy, which entered into force in 1979, was revised in 2017. It helps individuals who have lived or worked in Canada and Italy to qualify for pension benefits based on their affiliation with each country’s pension system. The SSA also permits continuity of social security coverage when people are sent by their employer to work temporarily in the other country and prevents dual coverage for the same work by both countries’ social security programs.

June 2019

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