Canada and Mexico formally agreed to expand air travel between both countries on February 18 in the hopes of promoting mutual economic growth for both countries.
This agreement will aim to:
increase the number of airlines from both countries to offer more flights
Provide better price flexibility
Reform/modernize safety practises
This desire to increase travel stems from the recent surge in Canadian-Mexican travelling which, according to the Prime Minister’s Office, is second-largest international air travel market, with more than 1.9 million Canadians having visited the country in 2012.
The bill was signed by ministers representing both countries in the presence of both Prime Minister Harper and President Enriue Pena Nieto.
Prime Minister Harper made it clear that the purpose of the agreement would be to further Canada and Mexico’s “Joint Action Plan”, an initiative that promotes economic growth, security, immigration and trade.
Harper also commented that these measures would aim to close the gap between Canada’s trade deficit with Mexico, as well as furthering the principles established by the North American Free Trade Agreement stating that currently, “It’s a very unbalanced relationship”.
To address these concerns, Harper touched on how the current economic partnership only serves to create an unbalanced North American economy.
“Trade flows have gone up enormously, but mostly on the Mexican side. Investment flows have gone up enormously, but almost entirely on the Canadian side. So we probably want to take a look at what we can do to grow some of those things more in a more balanced way.”
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, in 2012 Canada imported $25.5 billion from Mexico while Canada exported about $5.4 billion to Mexico.
Though Harper has addressed the growing concern over the unbalanced economics between Canada and Mexico, the Prime Minister has come under much criticism for failing to address the growing concern over Canada’s often restrictive visas.
Carlo Dade, director of the centre for trade and investment policy at the Canada West Foundation commented in an interview with CBC that Canada has failed to capitalize on the benefits on NAFTA.
“We’ve largely missed the rise of the Mexican middle class, whose economy is larger than Canada’s and who have signed more free trade agreements than we have”.
He also further commented on how Canada’s apparent “mixed signals” in regards to visas have isolated and upset certain Mexican communities.
“North American competitiveness is taking a hit as we become one of the few trade blocks around the globe that put increased restrictions on travel while all our competitors — Europe, the Pacific Alliance, Asia — are reducing measures to prevent travel”.
Perhaps the Conservative Government should re-consider its heavy handed approach to foreign relations/emigration which in comparison to other first-world countries, comes off as restrictive and reminiscent of the past.