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The Canadian-Mexican Agenda

Canada and Mexico are indisputably intertwined. Canadians just need to realize it argues Jennifer Jeffs.

By: /
25 May, 2012
By: Jennifer Jeffs

Past President of the Canadian International Council (CIC).

It wasn’t always the case, but the interests of Canada and Mexico are now indisputably intertwined.

In 2010, Canadian trade with Mexico reached $27 billion, exceeding trade with the U.K. for the first time and making Mexico our third-largest trading partner in the world next to the U.S. and China. By the end of that year, over 2,600 firms were registered in Mexico as having Canadian capital.

While trade with, and investment in, Mexico has increased steadily since the signing of NAFTA nearly 20 years ago, tourism to Mexico has only recently spiked. Between 2005 and 2010, the annual number of Canadian tourists in Mexico doubled to 1.6 million, and increasing numbers of Canadians are considering Mexico as a retirement destination. The violence that threatens those tourists, however, is due to a drug trade that Canadian consumption helps feed.

Yet, Canada’s interest in – and potential to help solve – Mexico’s security problem is too seldom discussed. The Canada-Mexico Partnership (CMP), which will hold its annual meeting in Ottawa next week, has a collection of working groups in areas such as agribusiness, energy, trade, investment, and innovation – all relating more or less directly to prosperity and economics. None deal directly with the security issues that threaten those things.

Deepening economic integration with Mexico is, of course, a good thing. As Graeme Douglas and Carlo Dade put it, “The main problem with the Canada-Mexico relationship is that there are no major problems with the relationship.” But increased integration must be complemented by increased acknowledgment by Canadians of the wide range of security issues facing both Mexico and Canada. These threats are not just narco-related – they also emanate from global challenges that emerging countries are less resilient to than developed ones: climate change, public health, food-security issues, and economic inequality.

In the latest volume of Canada Among Nations, titled Canada and Mexico’s Unfinished Agenda, I present avenues for collaboration between Canada and Mexico on these global threats to prosperity. The book is a collection of essays that answer, in various ways, the question of why Canada, which has benefited so much from Mexico’s rise, seems to be impervious to Mexico’s challenges. The contention of Canada Among Nations is that Canadians should acknowledge Mexico’s true position as a strategic ally, and take up the relationship’s unfinished agenda.

Photo courtesy of Reuters

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