The relationship between Mexico and Canada has continued to grow since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1944. Our trade and investment relationship has seen strong growth since the entry into force of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994. Today, with increasing bilateral trade and investment; regular parliamentary meetings; bilateral security and military dialogues; North American collaboration with our common neighbour, the United States, in areas such as security, competitiveness and the environment; as well as international and regional cooperation in forums such as the United Nations and the Organization of American States, Canada and Mexico have become important strategic partners.
The Canada-Mexico relationship is characterized by sustained political engagement and regular dialogue in the bilateral, North American, hemispheric and multilateral contexts. Dialogue is pursued through a variety of means, ranging from periodic high-level consultations to inter-parliamentary meetings and the North American Leaders Summits, to more institutionalized mechanisms such as the innovative Canada-Mexico Partnership (CMP). The CMP, established in 2004, aims at promoting collaboration between the public and private sectors and operates through a series of working groups dealing with trade, investment and innovation, agri-business, housing and community development, environment and forestry, human capital development, energy and labour mobility. A multi-track security dialogue involving annual security consultations as well as political-military and military talks is complemented by security and justice cooperation through the Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program.
In February 2014, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, together with Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico, announced a renewed 2014-2016 Canada-Mexico Joint Action Plan that outlines four priorities for the bilateral relationship: fostering competitive and sustainable economies, protecting citizens of both countries, enhancing people-to-people contacts and projecting the partnership regionally and globally.
Canada and Mexico are now among each other’s largest trading partners, with 1,828 Canadian companies exporting to Mexico. Mexico is also a priority market for Export Development Canada (EDC); EDC has had a resident presence since 2000, providing extensive financial services related to Canadian exports and Canadian investments in the country. Mexico’s demographic and economic prospects point toward an even greater growth in commercial exchanges.
Mexico is the second-most important tourist destination for Canadians, with 1.6 million visits in 2012. A significant number of Canadians, particularly a growing proportion of retirees, have purchased property in Mexico and spend extended periods there. Canada receives significant numbers of Mexican visitors—156,856 in 2013, including 18,718 agricultural workers under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, often cited as a model for international labour-mobility arrangements, as well as 5,000 students.
Academic and cultural ties are essential components of our relationship. There are significant exchanges and cooperation at the academic level, with more than 400 signed agreements among universities and higher-education institutions. During Prime Minister Harper’s February 2014 visit to Mexico, he and President Peña Nieto noted that cooperation on higher education and innovation is a powerful tool for strengthening the bilateral relationship. Mexico is one of the major recipients of Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program scholarships, with 396 Mexican students benefiting from the program since it was launched in 2009. Mexican researchers also benefit from the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships and Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships programs. Mexican students are eligible for International Experience Canada. This initiative benefits Canadian and Mexican youth by making it easier for them to gain invaluable travel, work and life experience in each other’s country for up to one year—an opportunity that will greatly enrich their personal and professional development and further deepen the people-to-people ties between Canadians and Mexicans.
The Canada-Mexico relationship continues to flourish.