Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 24°C

min temp: 14°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Economy: UK visa controls ‘hampering Goverment efforts to boost trade’, MPs claim

06:00 17 January 2014

Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee.

Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee.

The Government’s efforts to boost trade are being hampered by Britain’s strict visa controls which are deterring some overseas businesses from dealing with the UK, MPs have warned.

The Commons Public Accounts Committee said the UK was currently set to miss Chancellor George Osborne’s target, announced in the 2012 Budget, to double the value of its exports to £1trillion by 2020.

Despite the Foreign Office (FCO) and UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) spending £420million last year to promote British exports, the committee said that for the past two years growth had remained flat.

While the committee said the two organisations needed to work more effectively together, it also highlighted “tensions” with the Home Office over its time-consuming visa regime.

“The Home Office’s measures to secure the UK’s borders, for example, through setting visa entry requirements, can discourage business travellers from other countries from visiting the UK. This potentially affects export opportunities,” it said.

“The FCO and UKTI told us that they are aware of a high level of concern in some countries about the time-consuming process of getting a UK visa.”

The FCO has been pressing for the three to five-day priority visa service - currently available in 67 countries - to be extended to a total of 90 countries. A same-day service, already available in India, is being expanded to cover China and six other countries.

“Despite such efforts, there remains considerable evidence of problems for business travellers and other individuals obtaining UK visas, which is damaging to the development of the face-to-face relationships needed for successful business in other countries,” the committee said.

The committee chair, Margaret Hodge said: “UKTI and the FCO should look into the difficulties experienced by business travellers in obtaining UK visas and work with the Home Office to minimise them.”

A Government spokesman acknowledged the target to double exports was “ambitious” but said that they were working hard to achieve it.

“We are shifting our focus towards targeting high-value opportunities, providing more support and advice for UK small and medium sized businesses, establishing a global business network and opening British business centres in key markets across the world including India, China and UAE,” the spokesman said.

Search hundreds of local jobs at Jobs24

1 comment

  • Thats got to be the reason hasn't it? Because one of the worlds great exporters, China, has such a flexible approach to visas???

    Report this comment

    trevorwoolnough

    Friday, January 17, 2014

12-20 Upper Orwell Street, which could be demolished and regenerated if plans by the East of England Co-op go through

A derelict building in Upper Orwell Street which has been empty for decades could be set for demolition if new plans for the area are approved.

A Claydon hybrid drill in action.

Suffolk-based Claydon Drills, the European market leader in strip seeding technology, has appointed Thurlow Nunn Standen to handle sales and service of Claydon Hybrid drills, TerraStar cultivators and Cambridge Rolls in Suffolk and Norfolk and parts of north Essex and Cambridgeshire.

Save the Duke campaigners.

Local farmers have got behind a bid to save an historic village pub.

The George Inn, Wickham Market

Community leaders are pushing for the compulsory purchase of a fire damaged Suffolk pub to save it from being torn down.

Rob Legge, chief executive of Servest.

Facilities management group Service is to create up to 50 new jobs with the opening of a new customer contact centre at its headquarters near Bury St Edmunds.

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

MyDate24 MyPhotos24