Montréal provided the setting for Premier Jean Charest’s first official meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderon on May 28 during Mr. Calderon’s two-day visit to Canada. They were joined by Mexico’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Patricia Espinosa, as well as by the Ministers of the Economy, Transport, Communications and Tourism. Pierre Arcand, Quebec’s Minister of International Relations and Minister Responsible for La Francophonie, also attended.
Mr. Charest said that he was very pleased with the meeting: “It will certainly contribute to forging stronger bilateral ties. We agreed on the importance of ensuring increased trade diversification, boosting our cultural presence and fostering labour mobility. It will also serve to strengthen the bonds of friendship we have maintained and nurtured over the past 30 years.” The previous meeting between the two leaders took place in New York in September 2008 in conjunction with the World Leadership Forum organized by the Foreign Policy Association.
Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took effect in 1994, trade between Québec and Mexico has grown fivefold (Québec continues to be a staunch supporter of NAFTA); Mexico is now Québec’s ninth-largest trading partner. More than 600 Québec-based companies operate in Mexico, some of which have been present in the country for many years, including Bombardier Aerospace, Bombardier Transportation, Bombardier Recreational Products and Transcontinental. Mexico is also identified as a priority country and one of five high-potential markets in Québec’s International Policy.
In 1982, the Québec and Mexican governments agreed to create a formal cooperation mechanism known as the Québec-Mexico Task Force (Groupe de travail Québec-Mexique/GTQM). Participants at the 12th meeting of the GTQM, held in Mexico City on October 16, 2009, ratified a program of 18 projects in the areas of culture, education, science, technology and economics.
“Our relations with Mexico extend beyond the federal level. Over the years, we have forged close ties with the state governments of Nuevo Leon, Jalisco, Guanajuato and Mexico, including the signing of cooperation agreements. We are currently working to implement these agreements in order to derive the optimal potential for Québec,” said Mr. Arcand.
Bilateral cultural relations are also highly dynamic. In 2009, Québec was the guest of honour at the Cervantino Festival, Latin America’s most important cultural gathering. Young Quebecers are also drawn to Mexico, with more than 1,500 people in the 18 to 35-year-old age group having carried out professional projects with the support of the Québec-Americas Youth Office (OQAJ) and 170 others having received international solidarity training under the auspices of the Québec Without Borders program.
Established in 1980, Québec Government Office in Mexico provides economic, cooperation, public affairs and immigration services.
Québec Government Office in Mexico