338 words - February 18, 2013 | © DiploNews, all rights reserved.
Within the framework of a travel to six Latin American countries from February 14 to 22, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird paid a visit to Mexico, his tour's first destination. He met with José Antonio Meade Kuribrena, the new Secretary of Foreign Relations. Describing Mexico as a "like-minded" partner, Mr Baird stated "Canada and Mexico are close friends and neighbors and have a long-standing strategic partnership in North America, in the hemisphere and in the world."
Mr Baird explained his visit subscribed to the long-term strategy of making the Pacific Alliance, of which Canada became an official observer in November 2012, a concrete reality on the international scene and in the hemisphere. Mexico, along with Chile, Colombia and Peru, is a founding member of the Alliance. The two officials talked about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and "how increased trade and collaboration can yield even more economic opportunities in the region."
Over the last two decades, trade between Canada and Mexico has increased more than six-fold, rising from CAD 4.5 billion in 1993 to nearly CAD 30.9 billion in 2012. The Canadian Minister also highlighted Prime Minister Stephen Harper government's "recent efforts to facilitate legitimate trade and travel," and expressed satisfaction that "nearly 60 percent of all visitor visas now being issued to Mexicans permit visitors to enter Canada multiple times without having to reapply for a visa."
To conclude, the two delegations discussed energy expertise and security issues, especially "the fight against international drug trafficking, human smuggling and transnational organized crime." According to Canada's Foreign Affairs and International Trade department, Mexico and Canada are strategic partners in combatting transnational organized crime, "one of the biggest problems facing the Americas." Despite the grave threat drug cartels still pose to Mexico's stability, Canada put the country on its list of designated countries of origin: "countries that offer state protection, have active human rights and civil society organizations, and do not normally produce refugees."
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