The Canada-U.A.E. Shared Strategic Agenda - Third Review

Commemorating 40 Years of Diplomatic Relations

July 9, 2014 - Toronto, Ontario - Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), today issued the following joint statement from Canada:

We have been honoured to have had the opportunity to travel together across Canada to commemorate the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Canada and the United Arab Emirates.

We launched the Shared Strategic Agenda (SSA) process in April 2013. Since then, we have reviewed it every six months. Through the SSA, we cooperate in the pursuit of the shared goals of enhancing economic prosperity for our societies, strengthening regional and international security, and cooperating on development objectives in third countries.

The past six months has made even clearer to us the strategic value of our engagement. Today, we are, once again, setting ambitious targets for the next six months.

A Memorandum of Understanding on Political Consultation was signed today at the foreign minister level. Consultation between our two countries will be a key vehicle for exchanging views and information, and for discussing global and regional issues.

Today, as a sign of our growing strategic relationship, we are pleased to announce a number of important upcoming visits:

  • His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister of the U.A.E., and Ruler of Dubai, has accepted an invitation to visit Canada.
  • His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan, Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, has accepted an invitation to visit Canada.

We are pleased to announce the following achievements and goals, which reflect the long-term strategic relationship we are committed to build:

Prosperity

  • The U.A.E. opened a consulate general in Toronto today, its second in all of North America, which will strengthen links between our business communities.
  • The U.A.E. has significant investments in Canada and is committed to expanding and broadening these investments toward our shared prosperity.
  • On 25 April 2013, Etihad Airways and Air Canada signed a commercial cooperation agreement that enhances travel options between the United Arab Emirates and Canada. This is without doubt a significant development that supports the aim of facilitating travel between the U.A.E. and Canada, which will benefit both countries’ economies. We will work toward increasing the number of air travellers between our nations.
  • Noting the opportunity to increase legitimate trade and travel between our two countries, Canada is reviewing ways to further facilitate the secure movement of U.A.E. citizens.
  • In November 2013, Minister Fast announced Canada’s Global Market Action Plan (GMAP), and the U.A.E. as a priority market. The nine sectors identified in GMAP are agriculture and processed food, defence and security, education, financial services, information and communications technologies, infrastructure, life sciences, oil and gas, and professional services.
  • The Canada-U.A.E. Business Council (CUBC) convened its second meeting, in Abu Dhabi in May. We are pleased to welcome the following decisions by the CUBC:
    • The CUBC will establish private-sector sub-committees to examine mutual commercial opportunities in infrastructure, energy security, tourism, agri-food and food security, and health and education.
    • The CUBC will provide its recommendations to the Canadian Minister of International Trade, the Hon. Ed Fast, and to the U.A.E. Minister of Economy, H.E. Sultan Al-Mansoori, in the fall of 2014.
    • Recommendations will include the intention of the CUBC continuing as a permanent entity, ensuring its role in support of stronger commercial relations between both countries.
  • In the fall of 2014, Minister Fast and Minister Al-Mansoori will convene in the U.A.E. the first meeting of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC).
  • In June 2014, Canadian and U.A.E. officials met in Ottawa to explore the feasibility of negotiating a Canada-U.A.E. foreign investment protection agreement (FIPA). On 8 July 2014, Canada’s Minister of International Trade, Ed Fast, and His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan announced the launch of formal negotiations toward a FIPA.
  • In support of the continued expansion of both our financial sectors, we intend to reach an agreement on financial and technical cooperation.
  • On 8 December 2013, the Toronto Financial Services Alliance (TFSA) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Dubai International Financial Centre Authority (DIFCA) to jointly promote the financial services sectors of both cities.
  • Canada and the U.A.E. will launch a comprehensive dialogue on energy, including energy development, investments in infrastructure development, renewable energy and energy efficiency. This dialogue will include Canadian provinces, U.A.E. emirates and the private sector in both countries.
  • Canada and the U.A.E. recognize the role of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) as a global platform for renewable energy cooperation, working in concert with other multilateral institutions in the field. Both countries will explore bilateral opportunities for joint clean energy projects.
  • The Canadian Commercial Corporation, as the Canadian government’s international contracting and procurement agency, will explore the possibility of signing a memorandum of understanding that could help bring together proven Canadian solutions to markets of common interest.
  • Building on the U.A.E.’s successful bid for Expo 2020, which Canada proudly supported, and given Canada’s experience with similar large events including two Expos, three Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the Pan American and Parapan American Games to be held in Toronto in 2015, we look forward to sharing best practices and expertise between the U.A.E. and Canada, through government and the private sector.
  • Canada and the U.A.E. look forward to developing our countries’ next generation of leaders in science, medicine, engineering, technology, business, social sciences, arts and humanities and public administration, and as such will seek to encourage Emirati and Canadian students to pursue opportunities.
  • We have agreed to conclude within six months a memorandum of understanding on cultural cooperation between our governments that aims to strengthen each of our societies as we gain a better understanding of each other’s history, talent and potential.

Security

  • Canada and the U.A.E. have launched negotiations to conclude a new defence cooperation plan and intend to reach an agreement as soon as possible.
  • Today, we agreed to continue to deepen our dialogue on security matters of critical importance to our two countries.
  • Our officials also agree to meet to review political and security files of mutual concern. We are formalizing meetings between senior officials, which began in Abu Dhabi in March 2014; a second round is scheduled in Canada in the last quarter of 2014.
  • Work continues between the Public Safety portfolio in Canada and the U.A.E. Ministry of Interior to strengthen cooperation on police and corrections issues. Those efforts, which are the result of direct discussions between our respective ministers, lay the foundation for strong long-term security collaboration between our two countries.
  • As outward-facing maritime nations, we agreed to emphasize opportunities for cooperation on our shores, including commercial partnerships, seaport infrastructure and maritime security.

Development

  • On April 15, 2014, Canada’s Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie, Minister Paradis, and Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna al Qassimi, U.A.E. Minister of International Cooperation and Development, signed a memorandum of understanding on international development cooperation.
  • Canada and the U.A.E. have agreed to pursue development cooperation in priority countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa in areas such as humanitarian assistance; maternal, newborn and child health; food security; education; and infrastructure development.
  • Minister Paradis also intends to travel to the U.A.E. in 2015 to launch the framework for Canada-U.A.E. development cooperation.

Regional Issues

  • We are focused on the situation in Iraq and its disastrous humanitarian consequences. We condemn the barbaric actions by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). We call on Iraqi leaders to come together and work across sectarian divides to rapidly form a new representative and legitimate government. A unified and inclusive government of Iraq is the only way to combat external and internal drivers of violence.
  • We remain concerned by the spiralling violence in Syria and by the unprecedented humanitarian crisis and its impact on neighbouring countries. Bashar al-Assad has lost legitimacy regardless of his so-called June election victory and cannot play a constructive role in the future of Syria. We remain resolute that only meaningful dialogue and a political solution will lead to reconciliation and lasting peace. We also strongly condemn the rise of extremism in Syria, the inflow of foreign fighters, and the deliberate targeting of civilians in the conflict. We remain determined that sectarian forces will fail in their effort to reshape the map of the region.
  • We remain concerned about regional spillover and the spread of sectarian violence into Jordan and Lebanon. We recognize the impact that regional violence and the resulting refugee flows have had on both countries, and are grateful to them for the compassion they have shown to the Syrian people. We pledge continued support for them in their endeavours. Canada and the U.A.E. will work together to ensure stability in the region, as part of the wider international community’s efforts.
  • We are pleased with the peaceful conduct of voting in Egypt and welcome the outcome of the May 2014 presidential election, which was witnessed by international observers. We strongly believe in the importance of a moderate, democratic and prosperous Egypt for the success of the region, especially at a time of growing regional security challenges. Our assistance for Egypt is focused on supporting long-term economic growth, driven by the needs of the Egyptian people and government.
  • We emphasize Iran’s responsibility to cooperate meaningfully with the international community in order to provide necessary reassurances with regard to its nuclear program. We note the more moderate tone of President Rouhani’s administration but are still looking to Iran to translate this into improving relations with its neighbours and delivering on its promises to its people. Beyond the nuclear issue, Iran has to play a responsible role in the region and in the world. We call on Iran to refrain from actions that continue to destabilize the region, including provocative interventions in other countries, which only exacerbates conflict and discord.
  • Given the constructive and stabilizing role of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in the Middle East, we are committed to working together through a Canada-GCC strategic dialogue in support of our common vision of a prosperous and secure region. It is with this in mind that we look forward to the formalization of this strategic dialogue this year.

We have asked our senior officials to report back to us in six months on the progress achieved on the agenda we have set out today.

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