France and Canada

Presentation

Political relations

Generally, France and Canada share the same view of international relations: they are attached to multilateralism, focus on international security problems, and promote democracy, human rights and good governance. Many forums have both countries as members, including NATO, the G8, 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 (such as Ebola, and in Afghanistan, Haiti, Africa, Iraq and Syria).

Following the State visit by the President of the Republic (accompanied by six ministers and ministers of State) to Canada in November 2014, the Prime Minister visited in October 2016 in the first high-level French visit since the election of the liberal government, confirming the vitality of this “exceptional partnership”. Accompanied by four ministers and ministers of State, the Prime Minister visited Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec. The State visit illustrated a 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. The renewed enhanced cooperation programme adopted on that occasion seeks to increase collaboration in several fields (the economy, defence, peacekeeping, political dialogue, culture and mobility, research and innovation).

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.

Visits

Recent visits to France

  • Governor-General (since 2002): Ms Clarkson (June 2004); Ms Jean (October 2005, May 2008); Mr Johnston (April and August 2012).
  • Prime Minister (since 2002): Mr Chrétien (May and November 2002, June and December 2003); Mr Martin (June and October 2004); Mr Harper (July 2006, April and June 2007, May 2008, June 2009, June 2010, March, May, September and November 2011, June 2012, June 2013, June 2014); Mr Trudeau (November 2015 for COP21, and April 2017 for the commemoration of the centenary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge).
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs (since 2002): Mr Graham (May 2003, September and October 2003); Mr Pettigrew (September 2004); Mr Bernier (November 2007); Mr Cannon (April 2009, June 2010, March 2011); Mr Baird (May and September 2011, July and October 2012, June 2013); Mr Nicholson (February 2015), Mr Dion (November 2015 for COP21, and October 2016 to take part in the Paris Conference on peacekeeping operations in a Francophone environment).

Recent visits to Canada (excluding visits to Quebec alone)

  • President of the French Republic (since 2002): Mr Chirac (June 2002); Mr Sarkozy (October 2008, June 2010); Mr Hollande (November 2014, State visit).
  • Prime Minister (since 2002): Mr Raffarin (May 2003); Mr Fillon (July 2008, October 2008); Mr Ayrault (March 2013); Mr Valls (October 2016).
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs (since 2002): Mr de Villepin (June 2002); Mr Douste-Blazy (March 2006); Mr Kouchner (January, March and June 2010); Mr Fabius (November 2014, State visit).
  • Other ministers (since 2012): Mr Lefebvre (SMEs, January 2012); Ms Bachelot (Solidarity, February 2012); Mr Mercier (Justice, March 2012); Mr Hamon (Social Economy, October 2012); Ms Delaunay (Elderly People, November 2012); Ms Vallaud-Belkacem (Women’s Rights, December 2012); Ms Batho (Ecology, March 2013); Ms Fourneyron (Sport and Youth, March 2013); Mr Hamon (Social Economy, March 2013); Ms Benguigui (Francophonie, March and June 2013); Mr Moscovici (Economy and Finance, September 2013); Ms Conway-Mouret (French Nationals Abroad, February 2014); Ms Taubira (Justice, March 2014); Ms Girardin (Development and Francophonie, August 2014); Ms Vallaud-Belkacem (National Education, Higher Education and Research, November 2014, State visit); Mr Fekl (Foreign Trade and French Nationals Abroad, November 2014, State visit); Ms Girardin (Development and Francophonie, November 2014, State visit); Mr Kanner (Urban Affairs, Youth and Sport, November 2014, State visit); Ms Lemaire (Digital Sector, November 2014, State visit); Ms Taubira (Justice, April 2015); Ms Pinville (Commerce, Small-Scale Industry, Consumer Affairs and the Social and Solidarity Economy, March 2016); Mr Placé (State Reform and Simplification, April 2016); Mr Urvoas (Justice, June 2016); Ms Girardin (Civil Service, October 2016 Prime Minister’s visit); Ms Azoulay (Culture, October 2016 Prime Minister’s visit); Ms Lemaire (Digital Sector, October 2016 Prime Minister’s visit); Mr Fekl (Foreign Trade, French Nationals Abroad and Promotion of Tourism, October 2016 Prime Minister’s visit).

Economic relations

Trade between France and Canada totalled around €9.9 billion in 2016 (€5.9 billion in goods and €4 billion in services). France, as Canada’s ninth-largest supplier, exported goods and services worth €5.8 billion. Our bilateral trade is dominated by four major industries: pharmaceuticals, aeronautics, agrifood (especially wines and spirits) and commodities (hydrocarbons, ores and metals). The considerable degradation of the balance of goods and services in 2016 (-€266.1 million) contrasts with France’s trade surplus with Canada in 2015 (+€180.6 million), returning to its level in 2014 (€269.9 million).

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 drop 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.

For more information, consult http://www.tresor.economie.gouv.fr/se/canada/ (in French)

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

France’s cultural action is extensive. Priority is given to the cultural and audiovisual 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. As shown by the many agreements signed between French institutions during the State visit, 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: 27.09.2017

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