Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 12°C

min temp: 2°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

Matthew Embley,  RDC recycling services manager, left, and Gary Griffiths, RDC international partners compliance, with the company's gold Zero Waste award.

Information technology reuse and recycling company RDC has received a gold Zero Waste Award from the letsrecycle.com website.

Angela Rushforth, managing director of Ridgeons, with the firm's Investors in People gold accreditation.

Regional timber and builders’ merchant chain Ridgeons has been awarded a “gold” rating under ther Investors in People (IiP) programme.

Alex Till of Menta.

Suffolk-based Enterprise agency Menta and the county branch of the Institute of Directors (IoD) are working together to help Suffolk business owners as they strive for growth.

The water unit from the Prince's Street fire station with Ipswich with officials from the Port of Ipswich and students from Suffolk New College at the water safety demostration hosted by the port.

The Port of Ipswich teamed up with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service to stage a rescue simulation off Orwell Quay.

From left, Chris Chamberlain from HTK, Vicki Cole from Crafted and Helen Dodman from Ipswich Central, the three organisations behind the Destination Digital conference.

The company behind the delivery of the Ipswich town centre Business Improvement District project has teamed up with two local digital specialist to stage a conference on online marketing for the tourism and hospitality sectors.

French Connection has warned that it faces a substantial loss when it posts its annual results.

Fashion chain French Connection today warned that it now expects to make a big annual loss after seeing its recovery hopes dashed by a difficult spring trading period.

Andrew Harrison, managing director of Stansted Airport.

Manchester Airports Group, parent company of Stansted Airport, scored a four-star rating in Business in the Community’s 2015 CR Index.

Dominic Casserley, group chief executive of Willis.

Global risk advice and insurance broking firm Willis has launched a 550million euro (£393m) offer to take full control of the French broker Gras Savoye.

Sainsbury's is to cut 800 jobs as part of a restructuring of its store operations.

Sainsbury’s is to cut 800 jobs as it becomes the latest supermarket to restructure its operations in the face of tough trading conditions.

The CWind Sword offshore support vessel.

Colchester-based offshore service vessel manufacturer CTruk has won an order to supply two more of its MPC22 boats to sister company CWind.

Most read

Topic pages