COME ON UP Canada and Mexico agree on visas and beef
Posted on 06/29/2016 | About Mexico
Canada and Mexico moved Tuesday to rid themselves of long-standing trade and travel irritants, touting their relationship as a model against the growing strains of protectionism and isolation in the US and Britain.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would lift its controversial visa requirement for Mexican visitors before the end of the year, while Mexico said it would end long-standing restrictions on Canadian beef imports.
Although both changes are still months away, Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto expressed satisfaction that the two main irritants in their bilateral relationship would be removed, paving the way for deeper co-operation.
Pena Nieto was on Day 2 of a three-day visit to Canada, which culminates in the North American Leaders' Summit, taking place Wednesday at Ottawa's National Gallery of Canada with Trudeau and US President Barack Obama.
The protectionist rhetoric coming from the presumptive Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, along with Britain's blockbuster decision leave the European Union, will add a counterpoint for the three leaders as they present the continent as a region of economic and political co-operation.
Trudeau called the Mexican-Canadian partnership an example to the world.
“That's a compelling example that we want to showcase at a time where, unfortunately, people are prone to turning inwards, which will, unfortunately, be at the cost of economic growth and their own success in many situations.”
The visa requirement will be lifted by Dec. 1, while the beef ban ends in October, he said.
Ending Mexican restrictions on Canadian beef, a lingering side effect of long-standing fears over mad-cow disease, “will support Canadian farmers and Canadian families,” he added.
The previous Conservative government imposed visas in 2009 to stop thousands of asylum claims being made by ineligible Mexican citizens - a controversial move that has stood as the major irritant between the two countries ever since.
“Since 2009, this barrier has been set, but today thanks to a great political will, we are overcoming such a barrier,” Pena Nieto said in Spanish.
Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel said in a statement that Trudeau was making “a political decision that puts the security of Canadians at risk” by lifting the visa.
“The decision to lift the visa appears to be a completely political quid pro quo, rather than a decision based on evidence and Canada's national interest.”
The Tories have said the asylum rate for Mexican nationals fell below one percent over the last four years, down from 25 percent just before the visa requirement was put in place in 2008.
However, The National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC) and the Canadian Airports Council (CAC) welcomed the announcement.
Marc-André O'Rourke, executive director of the NACC, said, "This is great news. Lifting visa requirements for Mexicans in favour of the electronic travel authorization will mean more opportunity to expand business, trade and travel with an important partner.
"Canada's major airlines recognize the importance of balancing the integrity of our immigration laws on one hand and the benefits associated with making it easier to visit and do business in Canada on the other hand. It is encouraging to see that Canada is taking steps to streamline its visa processes and find that balance.”
CAC President Daniel-Robert Gooch, said, "Canada and Mexico have a longstanding relationship, and this new development today will strengthen that partnership and further boost tourism and business opportunities in Canada.
"Enabling low risk travellers from Mexico to use the electronic travel authorization is a good step in what we hope will be a broader, more modern approach to facilitating low-risk travelers from additional countries around the world."
The two countries also agreed to work together to advance the interests of indigenous people in both countries, in particular to help women gain access to education and foster innovation and entrepreneurship, Trudeau said.
Along with a variety of courtesy calls and photo-op events, the Mexican president also attended a youth event on Tuesday before a state dinner hosted by Gov. Gen. David Johnston at Rideau Hall.
Earlier Tuesday, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr told a forum on innovation that Wednesday's summit takes place just as similar agendas - transitioning away from fossil fuels and racing towards energy innovation - are seizing governments around the world.
Carr called it “an absolutely important moment as the history of the world begins to adjust to these very important changes.”
Today, Pena Nieto will sign Mexico on to the Canada-US methane reduction deal announced when Trudeau paid a state visit to Washington in March. That accord pledges to cut methane emissions 40 to 45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025.
The three leaders will also announce a goal to achieve 50 percent of clean power generation across North America by 2025, including renewable energy, nuclear power, carbon capture and storage and cutting energy waste through increased efficiency.