Mexico and Canada established diplomatic relations on January 30, 1944, agreeing to exchange representatives at the level of Ambassador. Trade relations and Canadian investment in Mexico, however, had been developing since the beginning of the twentieth century, although foreign relations between the Dominion of Canada and Mexico were handled through the British Foreign Ministry.
In 1926, Canada opened its first three diplomatic missions in Washington, Paris and Tokyo, the only capitals with which it maintained direct relations. It was in 1938 and 1940 that Canada first established relations with Latin American countries, beginning with Argentina, Brazil and Chile. The absence of relations with Mexico at this time was due to differences with the United Kingdom as a consequence of the nationalization of petroleum in 1938. Nevertheless, Canada was fully convinced of Mexico's importance in the region, and bilateral relations developed with friendly, always polite, and increasingly more frequent contact. Following the establishment of diplomatic relations, the first trade agreement between Mexico and Canada was signed in 1946.
A noteworthy event in the development of relations was the trilateral meeting of Heads of State, held by United States President Dwight Eisenhower in White Sulphur Springs, Virginia, in 1956, and attended by President Adolfo Ruíz Cortines and Prime Minister Louis St-Laurent.
In 1959, President Adolfo López Mateos chose Canada in which to conduct his first Official State Visit, a visit that was reciprocated the following year by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker.
The Mexico-Canada Joint Ministerial Commission was established in 1968, with the aim of providing a high-level forum for consultation that would meet at least once every two years to discuss topics of interest and promote the development of bilateral relations. The first meeting of the Commission was held in Mexico City in 1971.
In 1973, President Luis Echeverría Álvarez met with Prime Minister Pierre E. Trudeau in Ottawa. The two leaders met again in Mexico in 1974, at which time they signed the Memorandum of Understanding on the admission of Mexican seasonal agricultural workers to Canada.
The first Mexico-Canada Inter-Parliamentary Meeting was held in 1975, and in 1976 Prime Minister Trudeau once again visited our country.
In 1980 President José López Portillo visited Ottawa, and in 1981 he met with Prime Minister Trudeau and President Ronald Reagan in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Several months later, in October of 1981, the three leaders participated in the North-South Dialogue Summit held in Cancun, Mexico, a meeting in which a total of 22 Heads of State participated.
Trudeau visited Mexico again in 1982, and in 1983 President Miguel de la Madrid travelled to Ottawa to meet with Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
In 1988 President Carlos Salinas de Gortari made special mention of Canada in his speech upon taking office, declaring that it would be one of the countries to receive highest priority in the development of bilateral relations.
In 1990 Canada decided to join the Organization of American States (OAS), and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney conducted an Official State Visit to Mexico. The following year, Mexico expressed a desire to negotiate a Trilateral Free Trade Agreement making Mexico, Canada and the United States trade partners.
In September of 1991, Presidents Carlos Salinas and George Bush met with Prime Minister Mulroney in California.
During the following years, bilateral relations between Mexico and Canada experienced a deep transformation that is still in evidence today, as the relationship continues to grow stronger and more intense, while diversifying into all sectors. Of particular note, NAFTA went into effect on January 1st, 1994, a year in which Canada and Mexico celebrated the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with an ambitious program including cultural and academic activities, as well as meetings between business sector representatives and government officials.
That same year, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien conducted an Official State Visit to Mexico, and Ernesto Zedillo visited Ottawa as President Elect of Mexico.
During the Mexican leader's Official State Visit to Canada in June of 1996, President Ernesto Zedillo and Prime Minister Jean Chrétien signed the Declaration of Objectives and Plan of Action for Mexico-Canada Relations.
Bilateral relations were further stimulated by the visit of Team Canada to Mexico in 1998 -led by the Governor General and comprising provincial representatives-, numerous visits by provincial leaders and state governors, and the 13th Meeting of the Ministerial Commission in Ottawa in 1999, which included the participation of six Mexican Secretaries and eleven Canadian Ministers.
In April of 1999, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien conducted an Official State Visit to Mexico and, together with President Zedillo, announced a Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action for Bilateral Relations.
On August 22, 2000, in an event of significance, then President Elect Vicente Fox conducted his first working visit as such, having selected Canada in which to begin his international activities. In addition to official contact, he met with the business community and non-governmental organizations.
Following his official investiture, President Vicente Fox and Prime Minister Jean Chrétien met in the Canadian capital in April of 2001 during an Official State Visit, at which time the Mexican dignitary visited Ottawa and Montreal to meet with renowned business leaders and NGO representatives. As a corollary, President Fox participated in the Summit of the Americas held in Quebec City, where he met trilaterally with the other North American leaders.
During 2001 and 2002, the number of high-level Canadian and Mexican officials who met rose dramatically, while various Memoranda of Understanding were also signed with the objective of enhancing relations in the most diverse areas.
In October of 2002, Prime Minister Chrétien visited Mexico to attend the APEC Summit in Los Cabos, where he had several conversations with President Fox. Another visit to Canada by President Fox is expected in the coming year, indicating the enormous importance of bilateral relations and the accelerated narrowing of ties between the two nations.
Currently, Canada ranks third in direct foreign investment for our country, while Mexico has become the fourth largest provider for Canada and its most important Latin American trade partner. As well, Mexico represents the third largest recipient of Canadian exports. In 2002, Team Canada led a trade mission to Mexico, and Export Development Canada opened its second office in Mexican territory. The Provinces of Alberta and Quebec also have offices in Mexico.