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(Feb 24, 2014) During Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's official visit to Mexico from February 17 to 19, 2014, in the context of the celebration of 70 years of diplomatic relations between Canada and Mexico, he and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto agreed on the importance of deepening and strengthening the relationship between the two countries in various fields. (Press Release, Presidency of the Republic of Mexico, Acuerdan México y Canadá Fortalecer su Relación Estratégica [Mexico and Canada Agree to Strengthen Their Strategic Relationship] (Feb. 18, 2014), Presidency of the Republic of Mexico website.)

The President and the Prime Minister witnessed the signing of a number of new agreements, including: a Mexico-Canada Action Plan defining priorities to make the economies of the two countries more competitive and sustainable; an agreement on air transport aimed at updating the previous framework dating back to1961 by promoting tourism between the two nations and creating new airline routes between Canada and Mexico; and a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cooperation between the Foreign Trade Bank of Mexico and its Canadian counterpart. (Id.)

Additionally, several commercial banks from Mexico and Canada joined the MOU on banking through a cooperation agreement, with the aim of boosting foreign trade between the two countries and, in particular, supporting small- and medium-size companies with financing not only from the development banks and the respective foreign trade banks of the two countries, but also from the commercial banks in both countries. (Id.)

Peña Nieto took note of the growth of the strategic partnership between Mexico and Canada, "particularly during the last 20 years in which we entered into a Free Trade Agreement with the United States." (Id.) The President stressed that Canada is the second largest destination for Mexican exports and is the fourth largest investor in Mexico, with an investment of US$15 trillion. He added that "Canadian companies in Mexico boost our competitiveness in dynamic sectors such as finance and aerospace." (Id.)

Moreover, he stated that Canada is the largest foreign investor in Mexico's mining sector, while Mexico is an important destination for Canadian exports and tourism. He added that "our country receives annually approximately 1.6 million Canadians who generate economic activity and contribute to the creation of jobs." (Id.)

Peña Nieto stressed the importance of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (Programa de Trabajadores Agrícolas Temporales), which allows a large number of farm workers from Mexico to work in Canada each year. He added that "[i]n the 40 years since this program was initiated, it has enabled 263,000 workers to find temporary employment in the brother country of Canada. That is why our relationship with a strategic ally such as Canada is important and relevant." (Id.)

Prime Minister Harper stated that trade between Mexico and Canada grew 600% thanks to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He highlighted the "incredible" growth of bilateral investment and tourism over the last 20 years after the signing of NAFTA. (Id.) Harper indicated that there are more than 200 Canadian companies that operate in Mexico to create new opportunities for themselves and for Mexico and thereby further strengthen bilateral investment. Noting that this is his fifth visit to Mexico as Prime Minister, Harper pointed out that over 1,500 Canadians relocate to Mexico every year and "establish their domicile here, which shows why Mexico is of fundamental importance to Canada." (Id.)

The Prime Minister reaffirmed the mutual commitment of the two countries to democracy and the rule of law and human rights, which he called vital to both countries "for the benefit or our people." He announced that on the issue of security cooperation, a declaration of understanding in the area of defense will be signed, and he underlined the plan of action signed between Canada and Mexico on February 18 that provides a framework for deepening relations between the two countries. He also praised the major reforms carried out by Peña Nieto, among them the reform of the energy sector. (Id.)

The two leaders failed to reach an agreement to eliminate the visa requirement imposed on Mexicans traveling to Canada. Peña Nieto expressed his recognition of Harper's willingness to continue discussing the issue in order to reach a solution that would in the near future lead to removal of the visa requirement. (Id.)

Author: Norma Gutierrez More by this author
Topic: Foreign trade and international finance More on this topic
 International affairs More on this topic
 National security More on this topic
 Treaties and International Agreements More on this topic
 Treaties and International Agreements/Aviation More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Canada More about this jurisdiction
 Mexico More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 02/24/2014