Canada to lift travel visa for Mexicans

AFP , Tuesday 28 Jun 2016

Canada will rescind travel restrictions on Mexicans at the end of this year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced during a visit by his counterpart President Enrique Pena Nieto on Tuesday.

The visa requirement imposed by Canada in 2009 in an attempt to stem bogus refugee claims has been a major irritant in the bilateral relationship.

It will be lifted on December 1, Trudeau told a joint press conference with Pena Nieto during the first state visit of a Mexican leader in 15 years, to "make it easier for our Mexican friends to visit Canada."

According to Canadian government figures, Mexican asylum bids have fallen from a peak in 2008, when Mexicans accounted for one in four refugee claims made in Canada, to below one percent.

Mexico, meanwhile, has agreed to remove barriers to Canadian beef imports imposed after a 2003 outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), the two leaders said.

Mexico had been one of the last holdouts, refusing to allow in beef from cattle more than 30 months of age, as other nations moved to lift temporary bans on Canadian beef imports.

Most of Canada's beef exports go to the United States, but a growing Mexican middle class is expected to boost demand for beef in Mexico.

Trudeau and Pena Nieto also said their two countries would collaborate on indigenous issues and international development, notably in Central America and the Caribbean.

Pena Nieto's two-day state visit precedes a North American leaders summit that will see US President Barack Obama join them in Ottawa on Wednesday.

Linked by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) since 1994, the three countries usually hold an annual summit dubbed the "Three Amigos."

Chaired for the first time by Trudeau following his November election, the summit will be Obama's last before he steps down in January.

The three leaders are expected to dovetail their climate and energy policies, including a promise to generate half of their overall electricity from clean energy by 2025, according to the White House.

Wind, solar and hydropower, plus nuclear power, accounted for 37 percent of the three countries' electricity in 2015.

In the United States, the region's largest electricity producer by far, clean energy currently generates around a third of total output, putting it behind Canada but ahead of Mexico.

Mexico will also join an existing commitment by the United States and Canada to reduce methane emissions -- a potent greenhouse gas -- by 40 to 45 percent of its 2012 levels by 2025.

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