Address by Minister Dion at a news conference following the Canada-Mexico High-Level Strategic Dialogue meeting
October 12, 2016 – Mexico City, Mexico
Check against delivery. This speech has been translated in accordance with the Government of Canada’s official languages policy and edited for posting and distribution in accordance with its communications policy.
It has been a pleasure to start, with my colleague [Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs] Claudia Ruiz Massieu, the first high-level strategic dialogue between Canada and Mexico and fulfill one of the main commitments made between Prime Minister [Justin] Trudeau and President [Enrique] Peña Nieto during the President’s state visit to Canada in June.
The Secretary and I know how important it is to make travel easier for Mexicans coming to Canada. We discussed the elimination of the visa requirement, which comes into effect December 1 . I expressed Canada’s gratitude to Mexico for delivering on its commitments related to eliminating the visa. We both agree that an easier flow of travellers, ideas and businesses can only benefit our two countries.
In the first 12 months following the elimination of the visa, we expect a 10-percent increase in the number of Mexican tourists visiting Canada. We have previously had approximately 300,000 Mexican visitors per year. We are now at the 200,000 level, and no impediments remain to exceed previous levels in the next few years.
We talked about education. Within our Canadian system, in which this is the jurisdiction of the provinces, I will be happy to support an increased collaboration with them.
On trade, the fact that we are each other’s third-largest trading partner means we each contribute immensely to the other’s economic prosperity. Nearly $38 billion of two-way merchandise trade in 2015 is impressive.
For Canada, an important development in our trade relationship was the successful lifting of the ban on Canadian beef. It means a great deal to Canadian farmers and families, and to the Government of Canada, that a resolution could be found, and I expressed that to Secretary Ruiz Massieu. I understand my colleague [Agriculture and Agri-food] Minister [Lawrence] MacAulay had a successful visit a few days ago that included a four-course dinner of Canadian beef!
We also discussed challenges that face Canadian businesses with operations in Mexico and how we can work together to address these and ensure a strong investment climate in Mexico for the benefit of Canadians and Mexicans alike.
This morning, the Secretary and I agreed to the establishment of a senior-level task force—a one-stop shop—to resolve challenges faced by Canadian firms in the extractives sector. Canadian-based companies account for approximately 70 percent of the foreign direct investment in this sector in Mexico.
Let’s work to increase it for the sake of Canadians and Mexicans.
We both believe that security cooperation is vital. With many Canadian companies doing business here, and more than 2 million Canadians visiting every year, we understand that a secure and prosperous Mexico is good for both of our countries. Canada supports Mexico in its efforts to fight organized crime and to implement important security and justice reforms.
We also had conversations about human rights. These are central to a healthy and constructive relationship. As long-time friends that have a deep respect for each other’s citizens, we can always have candid discussions on these issues in the spirit of cooperation and mutual trust that has characterized our relationship for more than 70 years.
I am pleased that we agreed this morning to an annual Canada-Mexico dialogue on human rights.
Today’s meeting was also a good opportunity for us to talk about how Canada and Mexico can collaborate in a multilateral way on issues such as climate change, global health, security and peacekeeping, as well as within forums such as the G20 and the United Nations.
There is always room to improve how bilateral partners work together multilaterally. I think there is great potential to deepen our cooperation, and we agreed to do more: [by holding] an annual dialogue on multilateralism, including on climate change, peace operations and labour.
The Government of Canada has committed to enhancing and expanding its relationship with Mexico, both bilaterally and within the North American partnership.
We are important strategic partners, and I look forward to continued collaboration through bilateral meetings such as this one and in international and regional forums, such as the United Nations and the Organization of American States.
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