A controversial visa requirement will be high on the agenda when the leaders of Canada, the US and Mexico come together in Ottawa at the end of June.
Rumours suggested Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto would not attend the ‘Three Amigos’ summit unless Justin Trudeau had lifted the visa requirement imposed by the previous Conservative government.
But with Nieto confirmed and no indication that Trudeau is about to grant visa-free travel to Mexican tourists, it promises to be a topic for discussion in the Canadian capital.
Trudeau and the Liberals said they would lift the restriction during their election campaign, while prominent Mexicans are also calling for it to be scrapped.
Augustin Barrios Gomez, former member of the Mexican Congress and current president of the Mexico Image Foundation, called for the visa restriction to be lifted immediately, saying it ‘doesn’t do justice’ to his country.
The visa restriction was imposed by the Conservatives 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.
The other main item on the summit agenda is clean energy and climate change, with little appetite for other significant change.
Barack Obama is on his way out of office, while Canada has nothing major on its agenda.
Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine are among the other countries currently lobbying Canada for visa-free travel.
Canada would place itself in a difficult position if it lifts the restriction for Mexico, having told the other three countries they do not meet requirements.
Romania and Bulgaria are the only members of the European Union’s Schengen zone requiring a visa to visit Canada. The EU wants this restriction lifted as part of a reciprocal deal that allows Canadians to move in the opposite direction. If the restriction is not lifted, Canadians are likely to require a visa to visit Europe, although the Schengen zone does not include Britain and Ireland.
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