Pierre Arcand, Minister of International Relations and Minister Responsible for La Francophonie, delivered a positive report on his official visit to Spain (September 7-11), which included meetings with some 15 high-level political figures and visits to a variety of industrial and cultural centres. He also announced four new cooperation projects during his trip.
At meetings in Madrid with Angel Lossada, Secretary of State for External Affairs, and Silvia Iranzo, Secretary of State for Trade, Mr. Arcand expressed Québec’s support for the Canada-EU economic partnership negotiations and promoted Québec’s competitive advantages for business start-ups. He delivered the same message during talks with Esperanza Aguirre, President of the Autonomous Community of Madrid, and with a group of Québec and Spanish investors at the Canadian Embassy.
“Québec accounts for a predominant share of trade between Canada and Spain, or nearly 40% of exports. That’s a lot. But we can do even better in strategic sectors such as aeronautics, IT, biotechnology, culture, tourism and the environment,” said Mr. Arcand.
In Catalonia, Mr. Arcand met with a variety of political figures, including José Montilla, President of Catalonia; Josep-Lluís Carod-Rovira, Vice-President of Catalonia; and Artur Mas, Leader of the Opposition. The discussions focused on the upcoming meeting of the Québec-Catalonia Joint Committee, which is slated for Québec City next spring. Other items on the agenda included the importance of further strengthening bilateral relations in a context of globalization. Mr. Arcand also met with Eugeni Villalbí, Secretary for Youth, and discussed the implementation of the Québec/Catalonia youth exchange program following the creation of the Québec World Office for Youth (OQMJ).
During his meeting in Barcelona with Josep Huguet, Minister of Innovation, Universities and Business, Mr. Arcand described Québec as a gateway into the North American market for Catalan investors. He also held discussions with Barcelona mayor Jordi Hereu about the tourist benefits stemming from the establishment of direct air links between Montreal and Barcelona and the need for joint tourism promotion with Catalonia.
Mr. Arcand also marked the 10th anniversary of Québec’s Government Office in Barcelona at a ceremony attended by various Catalan ministers.
Mr. Arcand capped off his trip with a visit to the Fira Tàrrega, an internationally renowned circus and street arts festival (Québec was showcased this year), where he took part in a round table discussion on circus and street arts in Québec with representatives of Cirque Éloize, Cirque du Soleil and the Québec City Summer Festival. He also officially opened the Québec information booth together with Tàrrega mayor Joan Amézaga.
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