France and Canada


Political relations

Generally, France and Canada share the same view of international relations: they are attached to multilateralism, focus on international peace and security problems, and promote democracy, human rights and good governance. Many forums have both countries as members, including NATO, the G7, the OECD, the OSCE and the IOF. More specifically, France and Canada work closely together on issues of common interest such as cultural diversity (2005 UNESCO Convention) and responses to political or humanitarian crises (Haiti, Sahel, Levant, Ebola, Venezuela).

The Canadian Prime Minister’s visit to France in April 2018 and President Macron’s visit to Canada in June 2018 confirmed the vitality of this “exceptional partnership”. These visits illustrated the relationship between France and Canada characterized by converging views on many international issues, a desire to strengthen economic relations in the framework of the EU-Canada free trade agreement, and political dialogue in a number of strategic sectors. In 2018, Canada and France strengthened their cooperation concerning the climate, the environment, cultural diversity, development and artificial intelligence.

Saint-Pierre and Miquelon (SPM) is an important aspect of our relationship. Following the arbitral award of June 1992 on the SPM Exclusive Economic Zone, France and Canada signed an agreement in 1994 that governs fishing and regional cooperation with the four Atlantic provinces of Canada. A joint commission meets annually to strengthen this cooperation.

Economic relations

Trade between France and Canada totalled around €11.2 billion in 2017 (€6.3 billion in goods and €4.9 billion in services). France, as Canada’s twelfth-largest supplier in 2018, exported goods and services worth €3.36 billion. Our bilateral trade is dominated by four major industries: pharmaceuticals, aeronautics, agrifood (especially wines and spirits) and commodities (hydrocarbons, ores and metals). Since the provisional entry into force of the CETA, the trade balance of goods has significantly improved for France after falling for two years (up €455.1 million in 2018 and up €39.7 million in 2017).

France is currently the 14th-largest foreign investor in Canada, with direct investment stock of €8 billion in 2014. Around 600 French companies are established in Canada, particularly Quebec, employing over 85,000 people (Sodexo 11,000, Lafarge 8,000, Michelin 4,500, etc.). Total has invested heavily in the oil sands in Alberta (this sector is affected by the change in oil prices, however), while Areva is the second-largest producer of uranium in Saskatchewan. There are 200 subsidiaries of Canadian companies in France, including Bombardier, Aastra, Cascades, McCain, Quebecor, SNC Lavalin and EnCana. These companies employ around 21,000 people.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

France’s cultural action is extensive. Priority is given to the cultural and broadcasting industries, educational cooperation and debate. The initiatives carried out are generally co-financed, and run with major public and private partners. In the creative industries, three aspects are being addressed systematically: spreading French creativity, promoting French expertise, and the opportunities for our content businesses to access the Canadian market. The greatest success in terms of educational cooperation has been the growth of DELF-DALF French language certification. Our educational cooperation also includes other aspects such as the promotion of French expertise and educational engineering, and the training of Canadian teachers.

Academic and research cooperation is particularly dynamic, thanks to student exchanges and joint supervision of PhDs. Since 2011, most of the major Canadian universities, including outside Quebec, have become open to the idea of joint supervision with French establishments. French and Canadian postgraduate mobility increased in late 2014, thanks to an agreement between French and Canadian institutions (Mitacs-Campus France agreement). The France-Canada Research Fund (FFCR) was set up in 2000 to support various exchange projects. There is particularly active scientific cooperation between major French research bodies (CNRS, INSERM) and Canadian ones, in sectors such as IT, energy, medicine and biotechnologies.

Decentralized cooperation is developing rapidly, as French and Canadian local governments build partnerships in various fields. However, 90% of these projects are in Quebec.

Updated: November 2019