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Canada-United Kingdom relations

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Bilateral relations

Canada and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) have a profound, wide-ranging relationship built on strong historic ties and shared values.

Canada and the UK share a sovereign, His Majesty King Charles III, and are both 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. This cooperation takes place both bilaterally and through various multilateral fora.

More broadly, Canada and the UK work closely together in many international organizations. Ours are the only two countries that are members of the OECD, OSCE, 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.

Through these various international forums, Canada and the UK collaborate to advance priorities such as gender equality, health, and education, address global threats, such as climate change, and respond to international security challenges, such as foreign information manipulation. We also continue to collaborate in support of building inclusive and stable societies, underpinned by democracy, human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of media, and the rule of law. Notably, Canada and the UK stand united in the fight against arbitrary detentions.

Canada and the UK also work to safeguard our mutual prosperity. This includes collaborative efforts to promote strong, sustainable, and balanced economic growth, sound fiscal management, healthy financial sectors and regulatory systems, and open markets. Our two countries are both committed to improving global economic conditions so that free and fair international trade and investment can thrive.

Defence

Canada and the UK enjoy a close-knit and multifaceted defence partnership that dates back several centuries. The Canadian Armed Forces were originally modelled on the British system, 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, including both bilaterally and multilaterally through NATO, and through participation in UN peacekeeping operations and other multinational military activities. In recent years, the UK and Canada have worked together with international allies on conflicts in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, and our defence ministries also collaborate closely to support Ukraine as it defends its sovereignty and freedom in the face of Russia’s unlawful invasion.

Canadian and British personnel serve on reciprocal exchange and professional development programs. 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 across all domains.

The UK is one of the top export destinations for Canadian defence products and services, and is one of Canada’s most important international partners on defence science and technology cooperation, second only to the U.S.

Trade relations

Canada and the United Kingdom enjoy a long and robust commercial relationship.

The UK was Canada’s third-largest single-country trading partner for goods and services in 2022, with trade valued at $46.5 billion. Around 3,700 Canadian companies—more than 93% of which are small and medium-sized enterprises—export goods to the UK.

The UK is an important source of foreign direct investment for Canada, ranking second after the United States on the ultimate investing country basis. There are more than 1,000 UK affiliates that employ over 150,000 people in Canada. The UK is also an attractive market for Canadian investors, ranking as the fourth largest recipient country, and largest in Europe, for Canadian investment abroad.

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, Canada and the UK signed an updated Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Science, Technology, and Innovation (ST&I) in 2024. This renewed agreement highlights our joint commitment to foster research and help tackle global challenges through the commercialization of new innovative solutions. This ST&I collaboration identified several key areas for cooperation, including quantum, AI, semiconductors, engineering biology and clean energy. Additionally, a focus on scientific diplomacy facilitates the exchange of expertise on issues such as international standards, governance, and regulation of new technologies, and help inform discussions in international forums.

Following the UK’s departure from the European Union in January 2020, the Canada-United Kingdom Trade Continuity Agreement, based on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), entered into force on April 1, 2021. The Trade Continuity Agreement preserves preferential market access, for both Canadian and UK businesses and does not expire. On July 16, 2023, Canada and the ten other members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) signed the UK Accession Protocol, welcoming the UK as the 12th member of the Agreement and the first successful accession candidate. CPTPP Parties are now undertaking their respective domestic processes for ratification of the UK Accession Protocol.  

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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:

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