Canada’s move to grant visa-free travel to Mexicans is further evidence the Liberal government is positioning itself to boost trade ties with Mexico and the wider Latin American bloc.
With Justin Trudeau’s government returning to the traditional Canadian ideals of being a welcoming and friendly nation, there is hope for new trade links in a region Canada has often struggled for traction.
Mexicans will be able to travel visa-free to Canada from December 1 under the visa agreement.
The US has historically dominated the Latin America region in terms of economic activity, but its share is falling, particularly with its growing anti-immigration movement and the real prospect of Donald Trump becoming president come November.
Trump has been outspoken about stopping Mexicans crossing the border and his election would be hugely unpopular with citizens of the US’s neighbour to the south.
The former reality TV star has promised to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement and build a wall along the border between the two countries.
With Mexico-US relations set to tumble, there is a void to be filled and Canada looks to be manoeuvering itself into position to fill it.
Mexico Finance Minister Luis Videgaray said before the visa lift that Canada-Mexico relations would get a huge boost should Trump get elected.
Canada and Mexico Compared (2015 figures)
|GDP: ($ billion)||1463.27||1985.05|
|GDP per capita: ($)||11520.26||55409.05|
|GDP growth rate: (%)||2.55||1.18|
The visa move also saw an agreement to export Canadian beef to Mexico in an early indication of increased trade.
China is also a key trade partner with Mexico, and the wider Latin America area.
Indeed, Canada is unlikely to ever rival the US and China in the region, but it could significantly improve its share if the moves made by the Liberal government continue.
Canada originally imposed the visa requirement in 2009 because of the overwhelming number of asylum claims from Mexico. The number of claims dropped from 9,000 to 1,199 as a result of the move, with associated costs falling from $304 million to $44 million.
However, the Tourism Industry Association of Canada estimates $465 million was lost as a result of the restriction.
Trudeau welcomed Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on an official state visit in June, after which Barack Obama joined the fray for the Three Amigos summit.
The visa announcement came during that period.
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