Tuesday, 23 August 2016 20:45

The Billion Dollar Immigration Question

Commentary by Kareem El-Assal and Sonia Takhar

Canada’s immigration minister John McCallum recently announced that the federal government is evaluating the merits of launching a new program to attract investor immigrants to the country.

Entrepreneur and investor (“business”) immigration programs aim to stimulate economic growth by attracting investment capital, business savvy, and high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) to Canada.

On the one hand, the programs draw talent, investment capital, and spending power to Canada. Yet, they have met with mixed success since Canada began to open its doors to business immigrants in 1978. In addition, public concerns have been raised about the impact of programs on housing affordability, the ‘sale’ of Canadian citizenship, and the extent to which the programs benefit Canada’s economy and society.

 

These issues raise a billion dollar question: does Canada need dedicated business immigration programs?

According to most Canadian jurisdictions, the answer appears to be ‘yes’. Today, such programs exist federally, and in eight out of 13 provinces and territories.  

Measure of success

To what extent have business immigration programs benefitted Canada’s economy? The answer depends on one’s benchmark of success.

If the primary objective is to draw investment capital and more spending to Canada, the federal government’s Immigrant Investor Program (IIP), which was terminated in 2014, and the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program, which continues to operate, have been successful.

Between 2007 and 2011, the programs raised $6.42 billion in investment capital for the governments of Canada and Quebec.  

A 2010 study argued that the main economic benefit of the IIP was the purchasing power of immigrants who spent significantly on homes, education, and goods and services in Canada.

Business and job creation

However, if the main aim is to attract individuals and investment capital which will lead to business and job creation, then much works lies ahead.

Most of Canada’s programs set out to achieve this end. It is in this vein that Canada overhauled its business immigration programs in 2014 as government research found that business immigrants had only limited economic success in Canada, both in terms of their earnings and running successful businesses.

The social value of the programs also merits examination. Canada seeks immigrants who will socially and culturally integrate into local communities and become engaged citizens. As such, Canada’s business immigration programs contain residency provisions which require foreign nationals to spend a certain length of time in the country to either qualify for or maintain their Canadian permanent residence status, or to become eligible for citizenship.

This has created a persistent challenge: residency requirements may be difficult to reconcile with the fact that entrepreneurs and investors are highly mobile, and frequently travel around the world to tend to their business.

Future of Business Immigration

Luckily, Canada’s extensive experience in this space provides stakeholders with lessons that can be applied in designing the business immigration programs of tomorrow. For these programs to meet Canada’s economic and social objectives, the following considerations must be taken into account.

Canada must take into account global competition. In the 1980’s, Canada was an international pioneer in business immigration, competing with only a handful of countries.

The field is much more crowded today, with about 30 countries offering such programs. Canada must continue to keep an eye out for competition in peer nations, and remain flexible enough to glean lessons learned and adapt global best practices.

Policy experimentation continues to feature prominently in the programs designed in Canada and elsewhere. Canadian policy-makers often adjust programs to try to create the right incentive structures and conditions for immigrants to facilitate business and job creation in Canada.

Program monitoring, refining, and a bit of patience will help policy-makers achieve Canada’s business immigration goals.

Public buy-in

Determining appropriate business immigration intake levels to support economic growth, preventing fraud, limiting burdensome application requirements, and processing applications quickly, all remain pivotal to success.

When it ended in 2014, the IIP had a backlog of 65,000 applications, which would have taken six years to process. Balancing these important and challenging responsibilities is essential if Canada wants to remain globally competitive and attract the best and the brightest.

Social issues such as housing affordability and residency requirements require additional scrutiny. Public opinion matters, and for these programs to succeed, the Canadian public must buy into the economic and social rationale.

Increasing public awareness of social benefits – such as business immigrants being a significant source of charitable contributions – may help ease concerns.

While these challenges appear daunting, Canada’s overall success with immigration should give stakeholders confidence that the country is fully capable of creating successful business immigration programs that benefit Canadians.

Kareem El-Assal is Research Associate, Education & Immigration, at the Conference Board of Canada and Sonia Takhar, a Student Intern. Please visit Entrepreneur & Investor Immigration Summit 2016: Vision, Action, Prosperity

Published in Policy
Wednesday, 05 August 2015 16:32

'Millionaire Visa' Less Appealing to Investors

by Carlos Tello (@SegunDoviaje) in Vancouver, British Columbia

“Would you give two million dollars with no monitoring, no oversight, no control; and hope to see your money in 15 years? Would you do that with your family's money?”

That’s what immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said when asked about the lack of interest in Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s latest immigration program targeting investors.

The program Kurland was referring to is called the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital (IIVC) pilot program. Under it, investors are required to have a personal net worth of C$10 million or more, and make a non-guaranteed investment of C$2 million over approximately 15 years.

When the program was announced last January, the federal government said that it would accept up to 500 applications, and give a maximum of 60 permanent-resident visas.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Zool Suleman believes that, by imposing tougher requirements, Canada’s new investor program has ended up being perceived as less appealing than other programs around the world.[/quote]

But through a Freedom of Information request, Kurland learned that the government only received six applications as of June 8.

“There’s a design flaw in that particular system,” Kurland said in an interview with New Canadian Media. “Essentially, the public servants built a mousetrap that couldn't catch mice.”

According to Kurland, the flaw is the lack of control investors have over the investment. The $2 million go to the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital fund, which is invested in “innovative Canadian start-ups with high growth potential,” according to the program’s website.

When contacted by New Canadian Media, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) didn't confirm the exact number of applications it received. “While we have received a number of applications, very few were complete or met the requirements,” reads their emailed statement.

The government is still receiving applications for the program. The deadline to apply is December 30.

Is the new program too expensive and risky?

Zool Suleman, an immigration laywer based in Vancouver, believes that the previous immigrant investor program, which ran from 1986 until 2014, had earned a reputation among investors as being a safe pathway to Canadian residency and a passport. The new program, in contrast, is seen as too expensive and risky.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]CIC argues that the new program not only efficiently targets investors who will contribute to Canadian society, but also ensures that they will properly support the country’s economy and work in the best interest of Canadians.[/quote]

Under the former Immigrant Investor Program (IIP), applicants had to invest C$800,000 in Canada’s economy in the form of a repayable loan. The applicant’s net worth had to be at least C$1.6 million. The IIP, which was often criticized as being a way for millionaires to buy their way into Canada, was put on hold in 2012 due to a backlog in applications, and was killed two years later.

“It seems that in the new program redesign, the emphasis was in putting money at risk,” Suleman said. “And the marketplaces said: ‘We don't want to put our money into a pool which we have no control over, and over which we have no guarantee.’”

Another big difference between the old program and the new one is the language requirement. The old one didn’t have one, but the new one requires applicants to take a language test to prove their proficiency in English or French.

Suleman believes that, by imposing tougher requirements, Canada’s new investor program has ended up being perceived as less appealing than other programs around the world.

Malta’s program, for example, requires a contribution of 650,000 from the applicant, in case he or she doesn’t have a family; payment of a due diligence fee; a commitment to remain in the country for a period of at least five years; and an additional investment of 150,000. Successful applicants become citizens of the European Union.

“Venture investor immigration funds work in a very competitive environment,” Suleman said. “Money will go where they can get the best passport and the safest lifestyle at the cheapest price.”

In order to make the new Canadian program more appealing for foreign investors, Suleman believes it needs to be reshaped.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]For the New Democratic Party’s Citizen and Immigration Critic Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe, programs that give priority access to residency to rich investors  – like the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital pilot – are unfair to other professionals with much-needed skills who are trying to immigrate to the country.[/quote]

“I think that the one thing the Canadian government can learn from this is that if you make it too hard, you will succeed in deterring investor immigration to Canada,” he said. “I think they need to rethink the program. That's really what needs to happen.”

CIC: We aren't going back

But CIC believes the new investors program is fair for both the foreign investors and Canadians. In the emailed statement CIC sent to New Canadian Media, they said that the program seeks to “ensure that we attract immigrant investors who are able to make a significant investment in Canadian venture capital and who will better integrate into our society.”

The objective of the program is to stimulate Canada’s economy and promote growth by funding start-ups across Canada. The Immigrant Investor Venture Capital fund will be managed by the investment arm of the Business Development Bank of Canada and other fund managers.

CIC argues that the new program not only efficiently targets investors who will contribute to Canadian society, but also ensures that they will properly support the country’s economy and work in the best interest of Canadians.

“We want investors to choose Canada for the right reasons: we want them to settle in our country and contribute to our economy,” reads the statement. “We will not lower our standards or consider going back to a program similar to [the previous one].”

But for the New Democratic Party’s Citizen and Immigration Critic Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe, programs that give priority access to residency to rich investors  – like the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital pilot – are unfair to other professionals with much-needed skills who are trying to immigrate to the country.

“It’s not fair to foreign caregivers, for example, who, because of huge backlogs, have to wait years for residency,” she said in an emailed statement. “Government must work with communities, provinces and experts to find a proper and fair solution.”

{module NCM Blurb}

Published in Economy
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 15:33

Immigrant-owned Businesses Leverage Exports

by Patricia Rimok in Montreal

Immigration Business Network ib2ib applauds the findings of a recent study done by the Conference Board of Canada that clearly shows immigrant entrepreneurs advance Canada’s export agenda outside of the U.S. more than non-immigrant Canadian Small and Medium Enterprises, SME’s. This is very important given the sluggish Canada-U.S. trade since the financial crisis began in 2007 which has pushed many Canadian SME’s to venture elsewhere to export their goods and the government to redouble its efforts to pursue free-trade deals, bilateral tax treaties and foreign investment protection agreements with fast-growing economies.

So why hasn’t Canada been more successful in leveraging its diverse immigration to increase its exports outside of the U.S.?

The main reasons brought forward by the Conference Board study are that immigrant-owned businesses exporting to non-U.S. markets are less operationally efficient, more likely to compete on price than innovation and product novelty, and represent limited long-term export potential especially the ones that are in the wholesale-retail trade sector.

Caution justified

We need, however, to be careful with some of these observations, especially given that the immigrant-owned businesses surveyed were established in Canada for only five years and have yet to be as sufficiently familiar with Canadian legal, fiscal, legislative and financing frameworks or have had the time to develop strong local business networks that they can leverage as non-immigrant based Canadian SME’s can. In fact, these same limitations have also been the primary reasons why more than half of the immigrant entrepreneurs and investors that came through the defunct immigrant entrepreneur and investor programs have left the country after five years with their capital.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][T]hese same limitations have also been the primary reasons why more than half of the immigrant entrepreneurs and investors that came through the defunct immigrant entrepreneur and investor programs have left the country after five years with their capital.[/quote]

Had we also included immigrant-owned businesses established for over 10 years in the Conference Board survey as a control group to measure and compare long-term impacts in the various business sectors studied, we may not have arrived at the same observations and conclusions. For example, wholesale and retail chains like Aldo, Point Zero, Peerless, Mep and countless others are immigrant-owned success stories that exist today which started in similar conditions, and yet, have been able to grow, export, diversify, innovate and employ thousands of people.

Other examples

In New Brunswick, for instance, the retail and wholesale trade sector is very important and experienced significant growth despite the fact that it is not associated to a high-growth or innovative sector. GDP associated to that sector was $2.6 Billion in 2010, up from $1.9 Billion in 2000 and projected to increase to $3.7 Billion in 2020. In 2011, out of 57,400 people associated to that sector, 53 800 were employed.

A longitudinal case study in 2009 in Spain (Peri and Requena), which measured the export-creating effects of immigrants from 1998 to 2008, was able to conclude that a rise in immigration to Spain from 1% to 10% in that period increased trade from 35% to 44% of Spanish GDP and the number of exporting firms grew from 58,000 to 100,000 over the same period. Both research economists also found that doubling the number of immigrants from a certain country in a Province led to an increase of the export values from the destination province to the country of the immigrant’s origin by around 10% thanks to their differentiated culture and goods, diaspora business and social connections which increase the diffusion of information and reduce the costs of doing business with their country of origin.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Both research economists also found that doubling the number of immigrants from a certain country in a Province led to an increase of the export values from the destination province to the country of the immigrant’s origin by around 10% thanks to their differentiated culture and goods, diaspora business and social connections which increase the diffusion of information and reduce the costs of doing business with their country of origin.[/quote]

Closer home

Using similar principles and closer to home, thanks to the contacts in China of a Chinese-Canadian immigrant entrepreneur and member of our network, Immigration Business Network ib2ib was able to secure for a Quebec-based clean-tech waste management company over $3 billion of financing to build 23 plants across Canada and create 1,500 permanent jobs. Wait, there is more! Now China wants the same plants built in their country and Brazil, United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) and others have expressed an interest to do the same. How is that for leveraging both Canadian imports and exports thanks to our immigration!

We need to continue this conversation with more Canadian immigrant-owned businesses that export as well as increase the connectivity and engagement of local Canadian SME’s with business immigrant and diaspora networks which bring foreign direct investment to Canada. The federal government has a great opportunity to continue improving on its more recent trade policies by incorporating them to their soon-to-be-released new immigrant entrepreneur and investor programs.

Patricia Rimok is President of the Montreal-based Immigration Business Network ib2ib Inc.

{module NCM Blurb}

Published in Commentary
Saturday, 08 February 2014 18:22

Brazilians getting over it

by Humberta Araújo

The October allegations that Canada’s surveillance agency was spying on Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy took Brazilians in Canada by surprise. The so-called “industrial espionage” has strained the relationship between both countries. The incident became a serious diplomatic embroilment overshadowing bilateral relations.

These allegations seem contrary to Canada’s official statements that Brazil is a key partner for Canada. "Brazil is at the nexus of the Government of Canada’s Strategy for Engagement in the Americas, Global Commerce Strategy and International Education Strategy,” reads the Government of Canada’s web site.

Raul Papaleo, president of Brazil-Canada Chamber of Commerce (BCCC), said there was no justification for Canada’s espionage. "This incident was an unwise and serious act. Canadian companies with interests in Brazil have always had open channels of communication. There was no need for such an attitude. The Canadian ambassador and the Brazilian minister have daily and direct contacts with each other, in case they need to discuss any kind of issue.”

The Brazil-Canada Chamber of Commerce was established in 1973 as a business association to foster stronger commercial relations between Brazil and Canada, and, in fact, hosted a meeting between Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy and Canadian mining corporations last December, just a few weeks after these spying allegations were front page news in Brazilian and Canadian media.

"We all know that countries are concerned with their own national security sector. However, this kind of industrial and commercial espionage is not good and no one accepts it," added Mr. Papaleo.

While Brazilians may be upset by these actions, Mr. Papaleo believes that the work of the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) will have no impact on ongoing business. "The Brazilian Government will not implement specific regulations to restrict business in the wake of this incident. But, of course, this cannot happen again," he warned.

The allegations

Allegations of espionage arose in October, after documents leaked by former (U.S.) National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden claimed that the CSEC was targeting metadata of phone calls and emails to and from the ministry.

José Francisco Schuster is a Brazilian-Canadian journalist who has been following this issue. For him, the "allegations of espionage caught Brazilians in Canada by surprise. Until then, Brazilians saw Canada as a sympathetic and supportive neighbour."

These claims "could affect the bilateral relationship between Brazil and Canada, endangering a 10-year history of important diplomatic partnerships and trade growth," said Mr. Schuster.

While more than three months have passed since these accusations "the situation seems to have vanished from front page news, while Brazilian cordiality gives way to caution," he said.

When the news broke, Brazilian foreign minister, Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, summoned the Canadian ambassador to demand explanations.

Although Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed concern about the situation, and announced that government officials were reaching out to their counterparts in Brazil, he did not issue an official apology — a gesture that Brazil, including its president, Dilma Rousseff, hoped for.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Brazilian Secretary of Geology, Mining and Mineral Transformation, Carlos Nogueira da Costa Júnior, said in an interview with New Canadian Media that "questions relating to this matter are being taken care exclusively by the Ministry of External Relations." He also said these allegations they won’t impact future bilateral relations. "Currently, Brazil and Canada enjoy a very positive bilateral environment with good expectations for current and future business."[/quote]

Mr. Nogueira visited Canada last December and met with Canadian corporations working in Brazil. "In Toronto, I had the chance at the Brazil-Canada Chamber of Commerce, to present the forecast for the mining industry in 2014. As we all know, both countries have important business interests in the sector, the reason for my get-together with the many public and private Canadian companies, who are active in the mining industry."

Canada leading investors

Currently, there are 55 Canadian companies working in Brazil. "The majority are mining gold and iron in Minas Gerais, Pará and Bahia. Canadian companies are also active in the equipment and services sector," said the Secretary.

The Brazilian Mining Institute estimates that between 2012 and 2016, investment in this sector will reach $75 billion U.S., with Canada as one of the leading investors. "The rate increase in commercial relations between the two countries tells us that the mining industry will continue growing in the next few years," he said.

In Toronto, Mr. Nogueira met one-on-one with investors and new corporations interested in exploring Brazil's potential. Kinross, MBAC Fertilizer Corp, and Jaguar Mining Inc.  were some of the companies present.

The spying claims were clearly on the minds of the investors during those meetings. "Obviously, there was some concern, but not enough to hurt each one's trust. The Brazilian government is open to dialogue and the ongoing projects were not impacted by the news," said Mr. Nogueira.

Commercial ties

Today, the volume of bilateral business in the mining sector is around $35 billion:  $19 million for Brazil and $16 million for Canada, after the purchase of Inco. Canadian commercial ties to Brazil are not limited to the mining industry, however. Investments in education, technology, health, aeronautics, satellites and transportation infrastructure are on the rise. All in all, some 500 Canadian companies are active in Brazil. In 2012, Brazil was the 7th highest source of foreign direct investment in Canada with $15.8 billion in cumulative stocks.

If the trend continues, Canada’s investment in Brazil will likely increase and although it looks like the recent espionage will not affect its business and commercial relations, they do leave a bad taste for the more than 20,000 Brazilians that live in Canada, especially as Brazil waits for an apology.

The first significant wave of Brazilians came to Canada in 1987 and Canada has recently become the largest recipient of Brazilian students, surpassing the United States. In 2011, 20,000 Brazilian students came to Canada. The program Science without Borders is sending thousands of Brazilian students for under-graduate and post-doctoral degrees in Canada. Most Brazilians in Canada reside in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia. Canada has had a trade office in Brazil since 1866, and in May 1941, Brazil opened its embassy in Ottawa and now has consulate offices in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. 

{module NCM Blurb}

Published in Latin America
Friday, 31 January 2014 01:45

Brazilians getting over it

by Humberta Araújo

The October allegations that Canada’s surveillance agency was spying on Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy took Brazilians in Canada by surprise. The so-called “industrial espionage” has strained the relationship between both countries. The incident became a serious diplomatic embroilment overshadowing bilateral relations.

These allegations seem contrary to Canada’s official statements that Brazil is a key partner for Canada. "Brazil is at the nexus of the Government of Canada’s Strategy for Engagement in the Americas, Global Commerce Strategy and International Education Strategy,” reads the Government of Canada’s web site.

Raul Papaleo, president of Brazil-Canada Chamber of Commerce (BCCC), said there was no justification for Canada’s espionage. "This incident was an unwise and serious act. Canadian companies with interests in Brazil have always had open channels of communication. There was no need for such an attitude. The Canadian ambassador and the Brazilian minister have daily and direct contacts with each other, in case they need to discuss any kind of issue.”

The Brazil-Canada Chamber of Commerce was established in 1973 as a business association to foster stronger commercial relations between Brazil and Canada, and, in fact, hosted a meeting between Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy and Canadian mining corporations last December, just a few weeks after these spying allegations were front page news in Brazilian and Canadian media.

"We all know that countries are concerned with their own national security sector. However, this kind of industrial and commercial espionage is not good and no one accepts it," added Mr. Papaleo.

While Brazilians may be upset by these actions, Mr. Papaleo believes that the work of the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) will have no impact on ongoing business. "The Brazilian Government will not implement specific regulations to restrict business in the wake of this incident. But, of course, this cannot happen again," he warned.

The allegations

Allegations of espionage arose in October, after documents leaked by former (U.S.) National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden claimed that the CSEC was targeting metadata of phone calls and emails to and from the ministry.

José Francisco Schuster is a Brazilian-Canadian journalist who has been following this issue. For him, the "allegations of espionage caught Brazilians in Canada by surprise. Until then, Brazilians saw Canada as a sympathetic and supportive neighbour."

These claims "could affect the bilateral relationship between Brazil and Canada, endangering a 10-year history of important diplomatic partnerships and trade growth," said Mr. Schuster.

While more than three months have passed since these accusations "the situation seems to have vanished from front page news, while Brazilian cordiality gives way to caution," he said.

When the news broke, Brazilian foreign minister, Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, summoned the Canadian ambassador to demand explanations.

Although Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed concern about the situation, and announced that government officials were reaching out to their counterparts in Brazil, he did not issue an official apology — a gesture that Brazil, including its president, Dilma Rousseff, hoped for.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Brazilian Secretary of Geology, Mining and Mineral Transformation, Carlos Nogueira da Costa Júnior, said in an interview with New Canadian Media that "questions relating to this matter are being taken care exclusively by the Ministry of External Relations." He also said these allegations they won’t impact future bilateral relations. "Currently, Brazil and Canada enjoy a very positive bilateral environment with good expectations for current and future business."[/quote]

Mr. Nogueira visited Canada last December and met with Canadian corporations working in Brazil. "In Toronto, I had the chance at the Brazil-Canada Chamber of Commerce, to present the forecast for the mining industry in 2014. As we all know, both countries have important business interests in the sector, the reason for my get-together with the many public and private Canadian companies, who are active in the mining industry."

Canada leading investors

Currently, there are 55 Canadian companies working in Brazil. "The majority are mining gold and iron in Minas Gerais, Pará and Bahia. Canadian companies are also active in the equipment and services sector," said the Secretary.

The Brazilian Mining Institute estimates that between 2012 and 2016, investment in this sector will reach $75 billion U.S., with Canada as one of the leading investors. "The rate increase in commercial relations between the two countries tells us that the mining industry will continue growing in the next few years," he said.

In Toronto, Mr. Nogueira met one-on-one with investors and new corporations interested in exploring Brazil's potential. Kinross, MBAC Fertilizer Corp, and Jaguar Mining Inc.  were some of the companies present.

The spying claims were clearly on the minds of the investors during those meetings. "Obviously, there was some concern, but not enough to hurt each one's trust. The Brazilian government is open to dialogue and the ongoing projects were not impacted by the news," said Mr. Nogueira.

Commercial ties

Today, the volume of bilateral business in the mining sector is around $35 billion:  $19 million for Brazil and $16 million for Canada, after the purchase of Inco. Canadian commercial ties to Brazil are not limited to the mining industry, however. Investments in education, technology, health, aeronautics, satellites and transportation infrastructure are on the rise. All in all, some 500 Canadian companies are active in Brazil. In 2012, Brazil was the 7th highest source of foreign direct investment in Canada with $15.8 billion in cumulative stocks.

If the trend continues, Canada’s investment in Brazil will likely increase and although it looks like the recent espionage will not affect its business and commercial relations, they do leave a bad taste for the more than 20,000 Brazilians that live in Canada, especially as Brazil waits for an apology.

The first significant wave of Brazilians came to Canada in 1987 and Canada has recently become the largest recipient of Brazilian students, surpassing the United States. In 2011, 20,000 Brazilian students came to Canada. The program Science without Borders is sending thousands of Brazilian students for under-graduate and post-doctoral degrees in Canada. Most Brazilians in Canada reside in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia. Canada has had a trade office in Brazil since 1866, and in May 1941, Brazil opened its embassy in Ottawa and now has consulate offices in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. 

{module NCM Blurb}

Published in Economy

Economic issues, deepening the relationship within the North American continent and the Canadian visa requirement for Mexicans, dominated the meeting held elected president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, during his visit to Ottawa.

Harper and Peña Nieto met for two hours, including a working lunch in the Canadian Parliament building in Ottawa, a few days before the leader of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) takes possession of the Mexican Presidency.

After the meeting, the two leaders appeared at a joint press conference, in which they reaffirmed their willingness to deepen the already close economic and political relations between the two countries.

"I am delighted that even before his inauguration has decided to visit his Canadian friend," Harper said to the media.

Prior to the start of the meeting, Peña Nieto had sent a message via his Twitter account in which he described Canada as a "strategic partner of Mexico."

During their meeting, the first held by the two leaders, Peña Nieto said Canadian Prime Minister the outlines of his government program, especially in the economic and public safety.

Peña Nieto said the meeting, "the first opportunity" to meet, had been "very positive."

For his part, Harper said the two countries "share deep connections on many levels. Mexico is the main tourist destination of Canadians travel. And for years, tens of thousands of Mexicans and their descendants have made Canada their country" .

Indeed, perhaps the most controversial topic of the meeting was the imposition in 2009 of visas to Mexican citizens visiting Canada, due to increased requests for shelter citizens of Latin American countries.

In the past three years, Mexico has tried to cancel the requirement to obtain a visa, but Canada has repeatedly refused.

Today, the two leaders discussed the issue again but during the press conference, Peña Nieto said if Harper had requested cancellation and only said he hopes the Canadian government to change its policy "in the short term."

"I have expressed my interest on this tax to the Mexican visa. As Prime Minister Harper said, was the result of an excessive number of requests for shelter that perhaps were not real," said Peña Nieto.

"We talked about the legislative changes (in Canada) and I hope that when the new law is approved in the near future be able to avoid this requirement," said Mexican President-elect.

Harper confirmed that Canada is in the process of amending laws refuge in the country and said that he had discussed with Peña Nieto change, but was more vague about when Canada could cancel visa requirements.

"The president and I discussed it and we said our officials consider options step by step to resolve the situation. We would finally see that the trip from Mexico does not need visa," said Harper.

Another issue that the two leaders discussed was the opening of the Mexican energy sector to foreign investors. Canada is one of the world powers in the exploration and development of natural resources and has a booming oil sector.

Before his meeting with Harper, Peña Nieto met with a group of Canadian business leaders, including representatives of the oil sector.

Mexican President-elect repeated during the press conference about wanting to change Mexican laws to allow entry of foreign investors in the Mexican energy sector "without privatizing" state company Pemex.

In that sense, Peña Nieto said that, in consensus with other political groups, would like to "see if I can get a legal change to ensure, without privatization of state enterprises, have greater private sector participation in infrastructure development in developing energy potential "of Mexico.

Peña Nieto defends in Canada increased North American integration

The elected president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, said he defended the need for greater integration of the North American countries during his meeting this day in Ottawa with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

During a press conference held after the meeting, Peña Nieto also said the two leaders discussed the visa imposition imposed by Canada in 2009 to Mexican citizens and hoped that in the "near term," the Canadian government set aside that requirement.

Peña Nieto said he was interested in working "together" to improve the competitiveness of the North American region.

Mexican President-elect added, "the proposal that my government will provide for America is to further integration. This will allow us to improve our competitiveness and promote the creation of more jobs, which is one of the most important issues for the two countries."

Peña Nieto also stated that Harper had tried to tax the visa in 2009 to Mexican citizens who want to travel to Canada.

"I have expressed my interest on this tax to the Mexican visa. As Prime Minister Harper has said was the result of an excessive number of requests for shelter that perhaps were not real" Peña Nieto said.

"We talked about the legislative changes (in Canada) and I hope that when the new law is approved in the short term, we are able to avoid this requirement," said Mexican President-elect.

Peña Nieto also addressed the opening of the Mexican energy sector to foreign investors, something that Canada, one of the world leaders in investment and development of raw materials, is particularly interested.

The leader of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) reiterated that he is interested in the entry of foreign investors but are not "privatization" of state energy companies.

Peña Nieto said in consensus with other political groups, "I like to see if I can get a legal change to ensure, without privatization of state enterprises, have greater private sector participation in infrastructure development to develop the energy potential" Mexico.

Eduardo Urueña is director of El Popular, Canada’s only Hispanic national daily newspaper, based in Toronto.

Published in National

New Canadian Media provides nonpartisan news and views representing all Canadian immigrant communities. As part of this endeavour, we re-publish aggregated content from various ethnic media publishers in Canada in an effort to raise the profile of news and commentary from an immigrant perspective. New Canadian Media, however, does not guarantee the accuracy of or endorse the views and opinions contained in content from such other sites. The views expressed on this site are those of the individual writers and commentators, and not necessarily those of New Canadian Media. Copyright © 2019 All rights reserved