Minister Baird Strengthens Ties with Mexico

(No. 232 - August 15, 2011 - 7:30 p.m. ET) John Baird, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister, today successfully concluded his first bilateral meeting with his Mexican counterpart, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Patricia Espinosa.

"Canada and Mexico enjoy strong relations as strategic partners in a number of important areas," said Minister Baird. "Minister Espinosa and I committed to work together to multiply our successes and to deepen our relations, building on the strong foundation that we share."

Minister Baird and Secretary Espinosa discussed a range of bilateral issues, including ongoing security cooperation and the increased importance of people-to-people linkages. They also reviewed a range of trilateral, hemispheric and global issues of common interest.

"Mexico is an important strategic partner for Canada," added Minister Baird. "A secure and prosperous Mexico is important to Canada's economy and regional security."

Minister Baird reaffirmed Canada's commitment to supporting Mexico in its efforts to fight transnational criminal organizations and implement integrated judicial and security sector reform. Through the Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program, Canada has committed more than $4 million to bilateral and regional projects since 2009.

Minister Baird's visit to Mexico follows visits to Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and Honduras, during which he accompanied Prime Minister Harper and other federal ministers.

The Americas, including Mexico, are an increasingly important economic region and a priority for Canada, as highlighted by the recent official visits by the Prime Minister. The Government of Canada has an active engagement strategy to strengthen ties, improve market access and promote security in the Americas.

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A backgrounder follows.

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Backgrounder - Canada-Mexico Relations

The Canada-Mexico relationship is broad and multi-faceted, with long-standing cooperation in many areas including security, governance, mobility, energy, trade and investment. Both countries are members of the G-20 and partner on a number of other North American, hemispheric and global issues.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón's visit to Canada in May 2010 was an important opportunity to deepen this strategic relationship. Canada and Mexico notably agreed to greater cooperation on air transport, youth mobility and anti-crime capacity-building. They also signed the 2010-12 Canada-Mexico Joint Action Plan, which articulates mutual priorities for the short and medium term.

Canada is contributing to and supportive of Mexico's ongoing efforts to combat organized crime. New initiatives include support for Mexico's ambitious efforts to reform its legal system. Canada is also working closely with Mexico to address mobility and migration issues, including labour mobility, academic and youth exchanges, and border and document security. Mexico has supported Canada's efforts to increase consular services to Canadians in Mexico. 1.5 million Canadians visit Mexico annually and 75,000 Canadian citizens live in Mexico.

Mexico is a key ally for Canada's engagement in the Americas. Mexico has made a concerted and successful effort to strengthen its engagement in the hemisphere, notably working closely with Canada to address the political crisis in Honduras and contributing to relief and reconstruction efforts in Haiti after the devastating earthquake there in January 2010.

Canada and Mexico are collaborating to increase the competitiveness of their economies through various forums. Trilaterally, they cooperate under the North American Leaders' Summit and the North American Free Trade Agreement. Bilaterally, they collaborate through the Canada-Mexico Partnership, a mechanism established in 2004 to bring together public- and private-sector actors from both countries to advance political and trade priorities in a number of areas, including migration, agriculture, forestry and the environment.

The Canada-Mexico commercial relationship has strengthened substantially under the North American Free Trade Agreement, with bilateral trade increasing six-fold. Canada and Mexico are among each other's largest trading partners, and Mexico's demographic and economic future points toward even greater commercial growth.

Mexico is Canada's fifth-largest export market and the third-largest exporter to Canada. Two-way trade surpassed $27 billion in 2010. Canada is among the largest foreign direct investors in Mexico with investments reaching over $4.6 billion in 2010, much of it in the mining, automotive and aerospace sectors. There are some 2,500 Canadian companies with a physical presence in Mexico ranging from very large, e.g. Bombardier and Research in Motion, to medium- and small-sized companies.