Québec government condemns decision to continue requiring visas for Mexican citizens

Montréal City, February, 2014 - As the North American Leaders’ Summit ended this week in Toluca, Mexico, Minister of International Relations, La Francophonie and External Trade Jean-François Lisée expressed deep disappointment over the Canadian government’s decision to maintain the imposition of visas for Mexican nationals since the requirement seriously jeopardizes Québec-Mexico relations.

Impacts on Québec-Mexico economic relations
Mexico is Québec’s fifth largest trading partner worldwide and its largest in Latin America. Since the imposition of visas in 2009, Québec’s tourism industry has seen the number of Mexican tourists plummet by more than 60%, from 89,400 vacationers in 2008 to 32,700 in 2011. In terms of annual economic benefits, this translates to a loss of close to $60 million for Québec.

As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of NAFTA, which aims to make North America an exporting region through better regional integration, it is contradictory for Canada to hinder that integration by imposing such heavy restrictions on the mobility of people.

The value of Québec exports to Mexico was nearly $1 billion ($973.3 million) in 2012. It was only $111.2 million in 1993. The growth represents a 775% increase in the span of 20 years. Exports to Mexico have therefore increased eightfold since the entry into force of NAFTA.

Maintaining the Canadian visa requirement goes counter to NAFTA’s objectives and the federal government’s statement to help make North America “the most competitive and dynamic region in the world.”

“The federal government’s decision is detrimental to the development of our exchanges with Mexico, particularly in the area of trade. By restricting the flow of partners in this way, the federal government is hampering the efforts of our companies at a time when Mexico is presenting new opportunities, especially in the energy and high tech sectors,” noted Minister Lisée. Mexico is currently undertaking a series of reforms in sectors where Québec businesses have solid expertise and where the Mexican demand is increasingly strong, such as energy and telecommunications.

“While the visa policy promoted by Ottawa is restrictive for Mexicans, it is even more so for Quebecers,” added Minister Lisée.

Québec’s position
The Québec government is aware of the problem of asylum seekers from Mexico, but is not in agreement with the federal government’s decision to impose visas on Mexican nationals. The Premier of Québec made that position known to the President of Mexico when she met with him during her mission to Mexico in June 2013.

It is the federal government’s responsibility to take appropriate measures to significantly reduce the asylum application processing time in order to limit negative impacts. The Québec government will closely monitor developments related to this issue.

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