The relationship between Mexico and Canada has grown continuously since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1944. Our trade and investment relationship has grown exponentially 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; 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 fora such as the United Nations and the OAS, Canada and Mexico have become important strategic partners.
The Canada-Mexico relationship is characterized by sustained political engagement and fluid 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, operationalized through a series of working groups dealing with trade, investment and innovation; agribusiness; housing and community development; environment and forestry; human capital development; energy; and labour mobility. A multi-track security dialogue involving annual security consultations and political-military talks is complemented by increasing security and justice cooperation through the Anti-Crime Capacity Building program.
In May 2010, on the occasion of the visit of President Calderón to Canada, both governments signed an updated 2010-2012 Canada-Mexico Joint Action Plan which established four priorities for the bilateral relationship: fostering competitive and sustainable economies; protection of citizens of both countries; enhancement of people-to-people contacts and the projection of the partnership regionally and globally.
Canada and Mexico are now among each other’s largest trading partners with more than 2500 Canadian companies currently operating in Mexico. Mexico is also a priority market for Export Development Canada (EDC) where it has had a resident presence since 2000 providing extensive financial services in relations 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 some 1.8 million visits per year. A significant number of Canadians, particularly a growing proportion of retirees, have purchased property in Mexico and spend extended periods in the country. Some 50,000 Canadians are thought to reside in Mexico either full or part-time. Canada receives significant numbers of Mexican visitors (over 130,000 in 2011) including more than 17,000 temporary agricultural workers under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, often cited as a model for international labour mobility arrangements, as well as over 10,000 students annually.
Academic and cultural ties are essential components of our relationship. There are significant exchanges and cooperation at the academic level, with more than 270 agreements among universities. Equally, Canadian studies programs or centres have been established in a number of Mexican universities. In 2009, Prime Minister Harper announced some 1600 scholarships for the Americas under the new Emerging leaders in the Americas program (ELAP), including 75 for Mexico. During Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s official visit to Canada in May 2010, Canada and Mexico signed a Youth Mobility MOU which was implemented on November 1, 2010 under the program name International Experience Canada. This initiative will benefit Canadian and Mexican youth by making it easier for them to gain invaluable travel, work and life experiences 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.