Visa requirements limit Canada's economic growth



    OTTAWA, Jan. 12 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada is limiting its trade and economic
growth potential because of barriers to the mobility of business
people-notably visa requirements for foreign business visitors-and an absence
of a Canadian foreign office in certain countries, according to a new report
from the Conference Board's International Trade and Investment Centre.
Barriers at the Border: The Costs of Impediments to Business Mobility
identifies countries where opening new embassies-particularly in Eastern
Europe, the Middle East and the Caribbean-would create the greatest economic
benefit.
    The report recommends that Canada take actions to reduce the negative
effects of temporary resident visa (TRV) requirements, which are non-tariff
barriers that discourage the trade of certain goods and services. While
eliminating visas would be neither sensible nor politically feasible, reducing
the delays and other costs associated with acquiring them would minimize the
negative effects.
    "Impediments to the mobility of business people can limit economic growth
by dampening trade, investment and visitors," said Michael Burt, Associate
Director, Industrial Outlook. "Canadian policy makers should reduce wait times
for visas, increase the use of multi-entry visas, and expand outsourcing of
visa processing. Efforts should be focused on large, emerging economies where
Canada has visa requirements, such as China, Russia, India, and Turkey."
    The study examined whether factors such as visa requirements, the
availability of a Canadian office, and the use of English and French in
foreign countries affect trade and investment. The analysis concluded that TRV
requirements reduce the stocks of inward foreign direct investment (FDI) by
$8.9 billion and outward FDI by $4.7 billion. Imports and exports of services
were lower by by $926 million and $330 million, respectively.
    The prevalence of English in a foreign country does lead to increased
trade, investment, and visitors, but the use of French does not seem to boost
trade or investment, with the exception of inward FDI.

    Foreign Offices Generate Economic Benefit

    The findings also indicate that the presence of Canadian offices in
foreign countries has contributed more than $10 billion to Canada's stock of
outbound FDI. Meanwhile, exports of goods and services are nearly $3 billion
higher. The presence of a foreign office also increases the number of foreign
visitors by about 165,000 visits.
    Canada has an embassy in the 56 countries with the highest "economic
weight" (calculated as GDP divided by distance travelled). Among the countries
where Canada does not have an office, those with the highest economic weights
include Slovakia and Slovenia in Eastern Europe, Iraq and Qatar in the Middle
East, and islands such as Bermuda and the Bahamas in the Caribbean.
    If necessary, the resources for these new offices could be reallocated
from countries with limited trade and investment opportunities where embassies
currently exist. They include countries such as Zimbabwe, Guyana, and
Cambodia.

    The report is publicly available at www.e-library.ca or
www.conferenceboard.ca/itic.




For further information:

For further information: Brent Dowdall, Media Relations, (613) 526-3090
ext.  448, corpcomm@conferenceboard.ca


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