Canada–Mexico relations

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Canadian–Mexican relations
Map indicating locations of Canada and Mexico



Canada–Mexico relations are relations between Canada and the United Mexican States. Although historic ties between the two nations have been coldly dormant, relations between Canada and Mexico have positively changed in recent years, seeing as both countries brokered the NAFTA. They were on different sides of the Cold War Spectrum (Canada was a member of NATO while Mexico was in the Non-Aligned Movement, though Mexico later left; the two countries were, however, allies in World War II.)


Since gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1931; Canada delayed in establishing diplomatic relations with Mexico due to the expropriation of foreign oil companies in 1938. At the time, Canada felt obliged to follow other nations in isolating Mexico economically and diplomatically. Formal relations between the two nations did not begin until 30 January 1944, at the height of Second World War, which both countries participated in on the Allied side. In 1952, Mexico opened its first consulate-general in Montreal.[1]

In 1959, President Adolfo López Mateos chose to visit Canada on his first official abroad. The visit was reciprocated by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker in 1960. Since then, almost every Mexican President has visited Canada at least once and almost every Canadian Prime Minister has visited Mexico.

Prior to the negotiations around the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) economic and political ties between Mexico and Canada were "weak."[2] Since NAFTA has come into force, the two countries have become much more important to each other, and often collaborate when dealing with the United States.

Today, both nations are mutual members of the G-20 major economies, Organization of American States, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the United Nations.

NAFTA and since[edit]

NAFTA Initialing Ceremony, October 1992. From left to right (standing) President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, President George H. W. Bush, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. (Seated) Jaime Serra Puche, Carla Hills, Michael Wilson.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper with President Enrique Peña Nieto in March 2014

Canada had just signed a free trade agreement with the United States in 1988 (FTA) when the US, under president George H. W. Bush, began to negotiate another pact with Mexico under president Carlos Salinas de Gortari. The Canadian government under prime minister Brian Mulroney feared that the advantages Canada had through the Canada-US FTA would be undermined, and asked to become a party to the US-Mexican talks.[2] The result was that NAFTA replaced the previous Canada-US FTA.

Relations between the two governments were particularly strong during the first decade of the twenty-first century. In October 2006, then president-elect Felipe Calderón visited Ottawa, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper attended the inauguration of the Mexican President. The two leaders were ideological allies, both being pro-market conservatives, Calderón of the National Action Party and Harper of the Conservative Party.

In November 2012, Enrique Peña Nieto also chose to visit Ottawa as a president-elect before taking the presidential oath. In an editorial in the Globe and Mail on that occasion Peña Nieto characterized the relationship before 1994 as one of "mutual benign neglect" but praised the increase in trade and travel between the two countries since NAFTA. He called for increased Canadian foreign direct investment in Mexico, especially in the petroleum industry, though he said that Petróleos Mexicanos, the state oil company, would remain the owner of the resources. As well he called “North American energy security” a “common goal” of both countries. He also pledged to work to reduce drug-related violence in the country and protect visiting Canadians. He also asked Canadians to reconsider a 2009 decision requiring Mexicans to have visas before coming to Canada.[3]


Twenty years after NAFTA, Mexico is the largest exporter and importer in Latin America. It exports more manufactured goods than all other Latin American countries combined. The country remains highly dependent on exports to the U.S., but it is on a path toward diversification. In 2012, Mexico was Canada’s fifth-largest export destination after the U.S., China, the United Kingdom and Japan, and Canada’s third-largest source of imports after the U.S. and China. In 2013, two-way trade between the two nations amounted to $30 billion USD.[4]


Main article: Mexican Canadian

There are thousands of temporary workers who go to Canada from Mexico each year, and many immigrate permanently as well. Recent changes to the immigration Act would allow many to apply for permanent residency after a two-year period which was not the case before.

Starting from July 13, 2009 all Mexican citizens willing to enter Canada must have a visa in advance from any Canadian Embassy or consulate abroad, an action taken by Canada due to increasing refugee petition claims by Mexican visitors. These refugee petition claims by Mexican visitors exceeded 9,500 in the first six months of the Canadian fiscal year 2009.

In 2013, 1.6 million Canadian citizens visited Mexico. During the same time period approximately 130,000 Mexican citizens visited Canada. It is estimated that 50,000 Canadian citizens either temporarily or permanently reside in Mexico.[5]

Resident diplomatic missions[edit]

See also[edit]