Canada-United Kingdom relations
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- Bilateral relations
- Commercial and economic relations
- Defence and security
- Partnerships and organizations
- Canada-United Kingdom fact sheet
Canada and the United Kingdom (UK) have a profound and positive relationship.
Canada and the UK share a sovereign, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and are among the oldest parliamentary democracies in the world. The relationship between our two countries continues a long tradition of strategic partnership. We fought alongside one another in two world wars and in nearly every major conflict for more than a century. In recent years, Canada and the UK have placed a high priority on our security relationship, which includes military, law enforcement, and intelligence cooperation.
Canada and the UK work closely together in many international organizations. Ours are the only two countries that are members of NATO, the G7, the G20, and the Commonwealth. Through the United Nations, World Bank, and other organizations, Canada and the UK continue to promote our shared values and commitment to international development. We work very closely in areas like gender equality, health, and education.
In addition, Canada and the UK continue to work closely together to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and to promote a sustainable recovery for all and equitable access to vaccines. Our two countries also work closely together to address global threats, such as climate change, and to respond to international security challenges around the world.
Canada and the UK support people around the world who are seeking to build inclusive and stable societies, underpinned by democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Canada and the UK also work to safeguard our mutual prosperity. We work together to promote global efforts to ensure strong, sustainable and balanced growth, sound fiscal management, healthy financial sectors and regulatory systems, and open markets. Our two countries aim to improve global economic conditions so that free and fair international trade and investment can thrive.
Commercial and economic relations
Canada and the United Kingdom enjoy a long and robust commercial relationship.
The UK is Canada’s most important commercial partner in Europe and our fourth largest globally. Two-way merchandise trade in 2020 reached $27.8 billion.
The UK is an important source of foreign direct investment for Canada, ranking third after the United States and the Netherlands. There are more than 950 UK affiliates that have a presence in Canada and that contribute to our economy. The UK is Canada’s second most important destination for investment abroad. More than 1100 UK firms are owned or controlled by Canadian interests. Canada and the UK also have strong partnerships in science, technology and innovation, with thriving networks of researchers, universities and R&D-intensive companies. To strengthen these links further, Canada and the UK signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Science, Technology, and Innovation in 2017. This agreement has helped accelerate collaboration and commercialization in areas such as agri-tech, advanced manufacturing, smart-grids, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and polar research. Looking forward, we will continue to focus efforts on areas of mutual strategic priority including health, achieving net zero and emerging digital technologies.
Following the UK’s departure from the European Union (i.e. Brexit), the Canada-United Kingdom Trade Continuity Agreement, based on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union, entered into force on April 1, 2021 - an interim deal that will be in place as Canada and the UK work towards negotiating a comprehensive free trade agreement. The Trade Continuity Agreement preserves preferential market access, based on CETA, for both Canadian and UK businesses.
Defence and security
Canada and the UK enjoy a close-knit and multifaceted defence partnership that dates back several centuries. The Canadian Forces were originally modelled on the British, and we share many traditions, values, and beliefs.
Our shared history and ties, forged on the battlefield during two world wars, have laid the groundwork for the solid defence relationship we enjoy today. The Canadian and UK defence ministries maintain close working relations at all levels, both bilaterally and multilaterally through NATO membership, participation in UN peacekeeping operations and other multinational military activities. In recent years, our defence ministries have worked closely with international allies on conflicts across the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia.
Defence cooperation is also evident in many other activities. Canadian and British personnel serve on reciprocal exchange and professional development programs. The British Army Training Unit in Suffield, Alberta, conducts regular mechanized battle exercises to maintain military readiness. Specialized elements of Canadian military training are conducted in the UK to take advantage of their expertise and to share and solidify best practices. Our common operational experience and challenges have led to ongoing information sharing and cooperation between our navies, air forces and armies.
The UK is one the top export destinations for Canadian defence products and services. The UK ranks second to the US in terms of international cooperation in defence science and technology.
Canada and the UK place a high priority on our bilateral and multilateral security relationship, including as part of NATO and Five Eyes. This includes intensive military, law enforcement, and intelligence co-operation. This partnership provides a broad and mutually beneficial level of information exchange on the widest possible range of global security issues and challenges. As members of the Five Eyes Intelligence Community, Canada and the UK work closely to ensure our mutual national security.
Today, our joint efforts are an important element in the campaign against international terrorism and in the promotion of democracy, the freedom of speech/media, and human rights. Canada and the UK also stand united in the fight against arbitrary detentions and coercive diplomacy.
Partnerships and organizations
To develop effective responses to today’s most pressing global challenges, Canada and the United Kingdom work closely in multilateral fora, such as:
- International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
- International Criminal Court (ICC)
- Multilateral Organization Performance Assessment Network (MOPAN)
- North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
- Open Government Partnership (OGP)
- Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
- Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
- Pacific Alliance
- United Nations (UN)
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
- World Trade Organization (WTO)
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