Last updated in October 2018
Bilateral relations are harmonious. Canada is an important North American friend and ally and is receptive to European and German interests owing to its history and national identity. The two countries’ commitment to these values and convictions is evident from their active involvement in international bodies and organisations, especially on issues of security and disarmament, human rights, humanitarian activities and peacekeeping operations. It is in Germany’s interest for Canada to maintain its commitment to Europe as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
The good relations between the two countries are reflected in the close cooperation between their foreign ministries, which often pursue parallel initiatives, for example the Ottawa Convention prohibiting anti-personnel mines, the small arms control and non-proliferation initiative, efforts to combat child abuse, the establishment of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, cooperation on the drafting of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which was signed by more than 100 countries, and standing together on the issue of Iran.
Official visits between the two countries are frequent. Germany’s then Federal President Joachim Gauck visited Canada in September 2014, the first such visit in 24 years. In June 2018, Federal Chancellor Merkel took part in the G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Quebec during Canada’s G7 Presidency. In February 2017, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid a bilateral visit to Germany, accompanied by his Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. Foreign Affairs Minister Freeland took part in the 2018 Munich Security Conference along with Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, met Foreign Minister Heiko Maas for bilateral talks in Berlin in April 2018 and, together with Heiko Maas, opened the Ambassadors Conference in Berlin.
Nearly 3.2 million of the 37.1 million Canadians have German roots. German immigration to Canada began some 300 years ago. Strong ties have been forged between Europe and North America as a result of the partition of Germany, the Berlin blockade and the division of Europe by the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. In the defence of shared values, Canada has demonstrated its solidarity with the Federal Republic of Germany. Up until 1993, a total of more than 300,000 members of the Canadian armed Forces had served at bases in Germany.
Since 21 September 2017, the provisional application of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union and Canada has also provided German-Canadian trade relations with new momentum. CETA was signed by the European Union and its member states and Canada on 30 October 2016 in Brussels. It can only enter into force fully (even those sections relating solely to national competencies) when all member states have ratified the agreement.
Overall, though, bilateral trade relations have so far lagged behind the two countries’ economic potential. As a resource-rich country, Canada is a major supplier of mineral raw materials to German industry. Canada’s large natural resources are of growing interest to the German market, not least because of Canada’s political stability.
In 2017, German exports to Canada were worth 9.67 billion euros, compared with 9.43 billion euros in 2016. During the same period, German imports from Canada were worth 4.39 billion euros, compared with 4.10 billion euros in 2016. According to German foreign trade statistics, Canada ranks 26th among buyers of German exports and 37th as a supplier of German imports. By contrast, Germany is the fourth largest supplier of Canada’s imports and the seventh largest export destination for Canadian goods. Germany’s main exports to Canada are motor vehicles and vehicle parts and machinery. Its primary imports from Canada are raw materials. In addition, the two countries supply each other with data processing equipment, electrical and optical goods, as well as chemical products.
Canada and Germany concluded a double taxation agreement in 2002, superseding the agreement of 1981. The Framework Agreement for Commercial and Economic Cooperation has been in force between the European Union and Canada since 1976, the Agreement for Scientific and Technological Cooperation since 1996, the Agreement on Trade in Wines and Spirit Drinks since 2003 and the Agreement on Air Transport since 2009.
A focus of German cultural relations and education policy in Canada is promoting the German language at schools and universities, as well as through scholarships, exchange, travel and awards programmes. The German language schools – now called National Heritage Schools and formerly also known as Saturday Schools – receive financial support as well. Canada has two all-day German schools: the Alexander von Humboldt German International School Montreal and the German International School Toronto. The former receives substantial support from Germany in the form of financing and personnel. This school, which offers instruction from kindergarten to the German higher education entrance qualification (Abitur), is attended by some 320 students.
The German International School Toronto was founded in 2000 and is also to offer the German Abitur in the medium term. It moved to new larger premises in 2013 to increase its intake capacity.
Academic exchanges are supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the German Research Foundation (DFG), as well as through numerous university partnerships. There are currently more than 500 known formal partnerships between German and Canadian higher education institutions.
The DAAD operates its own Information Centre in Toronto, which promotes Germany as a place to study across the country. Since April 2015, a joint Internet platform called So German has provided a single point of access to information about the activities and projects of German institutions in Canada and increased their visibility.
The Youth Mobility Agreement (YMA) between Germany and Canada was established in 2006 and expanded in April 2017. It is an umbrella agreement encompassing all earlier youth exchange programmes. The YMA enables young Germans and Canadians between the age of 18 and 35 to spend up to a year in the partner country. A recently signed amendment agreement enables Canadians to extend their stay in Germany for an additional year. During their stay, the young people can work to support themselves or complete an internship. In Canada, the programme based on the agreement was renamed International Experience Canada (IEC) in 2010.
This year, for the first time since its founding 32 years ago, the International Parliamentary Scholarships (IPS) programme selected two young Canadians to undergo a five-month internship at the German Bundestag from March 2018. The scholarship holders will gain unique insights into the German political system, while also improving their language skills and making contacts with the other 116 international interns.
Science and technology
Canada is one of Germany’s most important partners in science and research. The German-Canadian Intergovernmental Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation was concluded in 1971. Since then, cooperation has steadily intensified in terms of the number of projects and participating partners and in terms of the breadth of fields involved. It now encompasses all German and Canadian research and intermediary organisations as well as universities and the private sector. The current priority research areas are natural resources, energy, the environment (including Arctic and oceanic research), modern manufacturing technologies, information and communication technologies as well as health research.
All major German research institutions are present in Canada: there are two Max Planck Centres in the country – the Max Planck-University of Ottawa Centre for Extreme and Quantum Photonics (Ottawa, Ontario) and the Max Planck-UBC Center for Quantum Materials (Vancouver, British Colombia). The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is involved in collaborative research projects with McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario) and Western University (London, Ontario) that deal, respectively, with health care and lightweight engineering. The Helmholtz-Alberta Initiative (HAI), the largest international collaborative project of both the Helmholtz Association and the University of Alberta, focuses on energy research. The activities of the Leibniz Education Research Network (LERN) include collaboration with Dalhousie University (Halifax, Nova Scotia) on migration and integration issues launched in 2016.
This text is intended as a source of basic information. It is regularly updated. No liability can be accepted for the accuracy or completeness of its contents.