Canadian Visa Delays a problem for Canadian Economy

The Conference Board's International Trade and Investment Centre says that visa requirements for business visitors is damaging for the Canadian economy in their report Barriers at the Border: The Costs of Impediments to Business Mobility.

It is recommended that new Embassies should be opened in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the Caribbean. The recommends that it should be cheaper and faster to obtain business visit visas.

The report states the following:
"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 considered such issues as visa requirements, the availability of a Canadian office, and the use of English and French in foreign countries; Temporary resident visa 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 $926 million and $330 million, respectively.

It seems that if English is widely used in a foreign country this leads to increased trade, investment, and visitors. However, the use of French in a foreign country does not seem to boost trade or investment, with the exception of inward FDI.

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 foreign direct investment. 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). On this basis it is suggested that Canada should have an office in 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, it is suggested that resources in countries such as Zimbabwe, Guyana, and Cambodia should be reallocated to countries with a higher "economic weight".