bilateral relations
multilateral relations among french-speaking countries

Québec has a network of delegations and offices abroad, and enjoys close, productive relations with many countries and organizations. A member of the international network of French- speaking countries, la Francophonie, it has signed cooperation and reciprocal agreements with several countries and is emerging as an increasingly dynamic international player. An outward- looking nation, Québec provides goods and services to the four corners of the earth.

Over the past thirty years, successive governments have created indispensable tools for conducting international affairs, culminating in the creation in 1988 of the Québec department of international affairs, which is responsible for the Québec government's activities abroad.

bilateral relations

Québec's relations with governments in other countries are designed to promote and defend Québec's interests and to contribute to its greater international presence.

In the current context, Quebecers must adapt and evolve, reconciling the imperatives of an open society with the preservation of their identity.

By maintaining ongoing relations with its foreign partners, Québec also seeks to create a framework conducive to exchanges that focus on shared and mutually beneficial priorities.

Given its physical proximity, the scope of trade, financial and tourism exchanges, and the numerous links forged over the years, the United States is a partner of paramount importance for Québec. There are five permanent Québec delegations in the US, including Québec Government House in New York. The American market is a natural stepping-stone for Québec businesses wishing to penetrate foreign markets. Québec, to this end, backed the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

France is a partner of choice among the European countries. Over the past thirty years, the French and Québec governments have established direct, privileged ties in all sectors of activity. These close links have been developed because of common roots, a common language, and a political will they have in common.

Cooperation with Europe is on the rise. Official government and trade missions are conducted regularly in Great Britain, Italy, Germany, and a number of East European countries. Québec has signed agreements with Belgium's Walloon and Flemish communities, and with Germany's Bavarian region. Relations have also been established with the European Community and the Council of Europe.

Japan ranks first among Québec's Asian trading partners. Here, the emphasis is on technological exchanges, industrial agreements, and trade in agrifood products. China, for its part, has tapped Québec's expertise in the fields of hydroelectricity, fighting forest fires, and pulp and paper. Trade relations have also been established with South Korea, Thailand, and Hong Kong.

Québec has close ties with a number of African countries, especially the French-speaking countries. It opened an office in Abidjan over twenty years ago, and several Québec organizations have assisted in development projects in African countries. Exchanges have focused increasingly on industrial and technological joint development activities and, with the support of the Canadian International Development Agency, more and more companies have carried out major infrastructure and service projects. Today, the African continent is one of Québec's main overseas destinations for service sales. Québec's assistance and expertise are widely sought in sectors such as energy, agricultural forestry, education, health care, small business development, and information technology.

Québec's ties with Latin America and the Caribbean are broadening and growing more frequent, especially in transportation, telecommunications, information technologies, mining, forestry, and livestock raising.

multilateral relations among french-speaking countries

For the past 25 years, Québec has maintained privileged ties with French-speaking countries through bilateral activities and also through participation in multilateral French-language organizations and the implementation of their programs.

The Québec government was first invited in 1968 to participate in the Conférence des ministres de l'Éducation nationale des pays d'expression française (CONFEMEN), held in Libreville, Gabon. In 1971, it became a "participating government" in the Agence de coopération culturelle et technique (ACCT), thereby contributing effectively to the Agency's programs in education, culture, science, and technology. In February 1986, Québec was invited to the first Conférence des chefs d'État et de gouvernements ayant en commun l'usage du français, a conference in Paris bringing together the heads of state and government of 39 French-speaking nations on five continents.

The creation of this conference was the natural outcome of a process which, since the 1960s, has seen la Francophonie become an increasingly present cultural, social, economic, and political reality. Québec City hosted the second Francophone Summit in September 1987.