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Canada and Saudi Arabia restore diplomatic relations

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Canada to resume diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia Reuters/Anusak Laowilas
Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, pictured at the Apec Summit last November, held talks on the sidelines with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
  • Canada- Saudi trade was worth $4.6bn in 2021
  • Resumption of relations may herald future free trade agreement
  • Kingdom was Canada‘s biggest Gulf export market in 2021

Canada and Saudi Arabia have brought an end to a five-year dispute by resuming diplomatic relations.

They will now appoint new ambassadors and renew diplomatic talks.

A statement from both countries said that the decision was reached “on the basis of mutual respect and common interests”. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had held discussions during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bangkok last November.

Saudi Arabia expelled Canada’s ambassador in 2018 and banned any new trade from taking place over Ottawa’s criticism of its human rights record.

Latest figures from the Canadian government from 2021 show Saudi Arabia was the biggest export market for Canada in the region, worth $2.2 billion. 81 percent of exports was transportation equipment.

Canadian imports were $2.4 billion and made up almost entirely of oil and petrochemicals.

Canada has appointed Jean-Philippe Linteau as its new ambassador in Riyadh. The Saudi appointment is to be confirmed.

Within the region Canada has free trade agreements with Israel and Jordan and four Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements with Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait and Lebanon.

Negotiations for such agreements have also been concluded but are yet to come into force with the UAE and Bahrain.

Last month Dubai-based airline Emirates expanded the frequency of flights between the UAE and Toronto, following a deal to expand air service between the two countries.

The expanded agreement allocates 21 flights per week for each country, which is 50 percent more than what was previously available.