Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 19°C

min temp: 15°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.

shares

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.

shares

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

Ashley Gogan, Bedford Lodge

A four-star hotel in Newmarket has appointed a new face to head up its conference and events service.

Sheepen Place office development scheme at night - artist's impression

Proposals have been submitted for two new office buildings planned for central Colchester.

Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand, left, shaking hands with Mike Tye, chief executive of the Spirit Pub Company, outside Spirit's headquarters in Burton uponTrent following the sale deal.

Jobs are at risk at Greene King following a major acquisition earlier this year.

EDF workers are unhappy over pay.

Hundreds of workers at energy giant EDF are to stage a 24-hour strike in a row over pay.

Amos Smith who is launching a new yoghurt called Mossy's from a secret family recipe.

A popular yogurt made to a secret family recipe has been revived by a young food entrepreneur.

Land next to Burger King is for sale

Tesco, Mothercare and Toys R Us could soon have a new neighbour at Copdock Mill

A city worker looks at a stock ticker screen at the London Stock Exchange in the City of London.

Volatile stock market conditions took their toll again today as the FTSE 100 Index plunged after sharp gains in the previous session.

The Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, John Longworth, has met with the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce in Ipswich to hear of their work delivering support to firms across the region.

The Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, John Longworth, met with the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce in Ipswich to hear of their work delivering support to firms across the region last week.

Sainsbury's supermarket was only one of Britain's big four supermarkets to grow sales in the last three months - but still saw its number two spot in the sector retaken by Asda.

Sainsbury’s was the only one of Britain’s big four supermarkets to grow sales in the last three months - but still saw its number two spot in the sector retaken by Asda, according to latest industry data.

Family law expert Georgina Hall, now a partner at Prettys

East Anglia law firm Prettys, which has offices in Ipswich and Chelmsford, has announced the promotion of family law expert Georgina Hall to partner, bringing the total number of partners in the firm to 10.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages