Skip to main content
opinion

Enrique Peña Nieto is president of Mexico.

It is a great honour to be in Canada on my first state visit. I come to renew the commitment made to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to begin a new chapter in the bilateral relationship between our two countries. Canada and Mexico have a bright future ahead.

Ever since the North American free-trade agreement was signed 22 years ago, the United States, Canadian, and Mexican economies have become increasingly intertwined. Regional commerce has experienced a boom and we have developed complex, high-value-added supply chains. Thanks to NAFTA, our countries are better positioned to benefit from the huge opportunities offered by global trade, of which the Trans-Pacific Partnership is the newest and most promising avenue.

Thanks to NAFTA, Canada and Mexico represent the largest export markets for U.S. goods, amounting to one-third of its total foreign sales. Nearly $2.1-million (U.S.) in commerce crosses the borders per minute between the United States and its neighbours. Moreover, trade between our three countries supports nearly 14 million U.S. jobs.

Bilateral relations between our two countries have a much earlier origin than NAFTA. Over the past 70 years, we have been building a solid strategic bilateral partnership based on principles of friendship and shared responsibility. Today, Canada is our third-largest trading partner and our fourth-largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI). In 2015, our trade amounted to $20.5-billion. During that year, Canadian accumulated FDI in Mexico reached $25.6-billion, while Mexican investment in Canada was about $1.1-billion.

In 2014, at the last North American Leaders' Summit in Toluca, we agreed to increase regional competitiveness; simplify the import and export procedures between our countries; strengthen mobility programs for tourists, workers and students; reinforce security co-operation; and take actions to address climate change.

However, there are still huge opportunities that have not yet been fully exploited. In the current global context of low oil prices and low-carbon emission commitments, co-operation on energy, from both conventional and non-conventional sources, is a pressing issue. Canada and Mexico play an important role in the integration of the North American energy market. We must boost efficient and clean energy production, while ensuring the responsible use of our resources.

Beyond our economic co-operation, we have strengthened our political ties and fostered closer relations among our people. In 1974, we launched a temporary agricultural workers program that has proved to be a success for both Canadian employers and Mexican employees. Likewise, the Mexican community living in Canada is the second-largest abroad, with 96,000 people, while more than 60,000 Canadians live in various Mexican cities.

My country is also the second most important destination for Canadian tourists in the world. Every year, we host 1.7 million visitors from Canada, while 200,000 Mexicans tourists travel to Canada. The mobility of our people has allowed us to get to know each other better and find new areas of co-operation. I appreciate and recognize Mr. Trudeau's stance on establishing the conditions to eliminate current visa requirements as a way to increase this mobility and further boost our bilateral ties.

Far from isolating ourselves, it is imperative that the countries of North America seek a deeper integration. We must achieve greater interconnection in order to further strengthen our regional economy and compete together worldwide. I am convinced that the shared vision between Canada and Mexico offers a unique opportunity to build new ways to broaden and expand our bilateral relations, and to make North America the most competitive region in the world.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article did not specify that the U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico figure of $2.1-million (U.S.) was per minute.