Canada Canada

17.07.2017 - Article

Last updated in April 2017

Political relations

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. Canada and Germany share common values and basic convictions.

Germany and Canada are linked by 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 strong 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. Then Federal President Joachim Gauck visited Canada in September 2014, the first such visit in 24 years. In February 2017, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid a bilateral visit to Germany, accompanied by his Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who attended the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bonn. During her stay in Germany, Foreign Affairs Minister Freeland also took part in the Munich Security Conference along with Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan. Then Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Germany in March 2014. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel travelled to Ottawa on 9 February 2015, holding talks with Prime Minister Harper on the agenda for Germany’s G7 Presidency. She had previously paid a bilateral visit to Canada in August 2012. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and his Canadian counterpart Freeland are in regular contact. Further members of the Canadian Government have also visited Germany.

Nearly 3.2 million of the 35.1 million Canadians have German roots. German immigration to Canada began some 300 years ago. The partition of Germany, the Berlin blockade and the division of Europe by the Iron Curtain during the Cold War forged strong ties between Europe and North America. In the defence of shared values, Canada has demonstrated its solidarity with the Federal Republic of Germany. Up to 1993, a total of more than 300,000 members of the Canadian armed forces served at bases in Germany.

Economic relations

After a temporary stagnation in bilateral trade relations during the global economic and financial crisis, there is now evidence of a tentative recovery. Overall, though, they lag behind the two countries’ economic potential. Canada’s large natural resource reserves have so far played only a minor role in supplying Germany’s raw material and energy needs but they are of growing interest to the German market, not least because of Canada's political stability.

Bilateral economic relations are untroubled. In 2016 German exports to Canada were worth 9.5 billion euros, compared with 9.9 billion euros in 2015. During the same period, German imports from Canada were worth 4.1 billion euros, compared with 4.0 billion euros in 2015. According to German foreign trade statistics, Canada ranks 25th 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, and 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. The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union and its member states and Canada was signed in Brussels on 30 October 2016. Key sections of the agreement are expected to enter into force provisionally in summer 2017. CETA can only enter into force fully (even those sections relating solely to national competencies) when all member states have ratified the agreement.

Cultural relations

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, the National Heritage Schools – formerly known also as Saturday Schools – receive financial support as well. Canada has two full-time German schools: the Alexander von Humboldt German International School Montreal and the German International School Toronto. The former receives substantial financial and personnel support from Germany. This school, which offers instruction from kindergarten to the German university education entrance qualification (Abitur), is attended by some 320 students.

The German International School Toronto was founded in 2000 and in the medium term is also to offer the German Abitur. 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 200 known formal partnerships between German and Canadian higher education institutions.

The DAAD operates its own Information Centre in Toronto, which promotes Germany as a study destination across the country. Since April 2015, a joint Internet platform called So German has brought together the activities and projects of German institutions in Canada and increased their visibility.

The Youth Mobility Agreement (YMA) between Germany and Canada, established in 2006, was 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 agreed 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.

Science and technology

The German-Canadian Intergovernmental Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation was concluded in 1971. Since then, more than 500 joint projects have been conducted. Initially, the joint activities focused on raw materials and energy research but now cooperation also encompasses the environmental and health sectors, information and communication technologies as well as modern manufacturing technologies. The major German research institutions’ engagement in Canada goes beyond project cooperation: the Helmholtz-Alberta Initiative (HAI), which focuses on joint energy, geological and environmental projects, is active in Edmonton. The HAI recently expanded its research interests to include health topics. During Federal Chancellor Merkel’s visit to Halifax in August 2012, the Helmholtz Association and the Halifax Marine Research Institute signed an agreement on joint research activities in the marine and environmental sciences. During his state visit to Canada in September 2014, then Federal President Gauck visited the University of Ottawa, which is cooperating closely with the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light (MPL) in the area of photonics. There is also cooperation between the Max Planck Society (MPG) and the University of British Columbia in materials research. In addition, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (FhG) cooperates with the University of Western Ontario on the development of new materials for automotive manufacturing and with McMaster University on biomedical engineering and modern manufacturing technologies, while the Leibniz Education Research Network (LERN) cooperates with Dalhousie University on migration and integration issues.


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.