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    Savvy Asian, European companies cashing in on stringent US visa rules AFP Wednesday February 2, 2005 http://sg.news.yahoo.com/050202/1/3q9qi.html ... photo:
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 6 11:46 AM
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      Savvy Asian, European companies cashing in on stringent US visa rules
      AFP
      Wednesday February 2, 2005
      http://sg.news.yahoo.com/050202/1/3q9qi.html


      ---
      photo:
      Savvy Asian, European companies cashing in on stringent US visa
      rules AFP Photo
      http://sg.news.yahoo.com/050202/1/3q9qii.html
      ---


      Stringent US visa procedures are getting American companies
      increasingly worried over business losses to competitors from Asia
      and Europe, despite government assurances that the situation is
      under control.

      William Reinsch, president of the US National Foreign Trade Council,
      said savvy European and Asian countries were welcoming with open
      arms companies whose executives faced visa difficulties in the
      United States.

      He said foreigners would not easily discard the perception that they
      were unwelcome in the United States, citing difficulties they faced
      entering the country for education, business or tourism after the
      September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

      "It is going to take a long time to overcome that kind of
      perception," Reinsch told a forum organized by the Global Business
      Dialogue Inc. in which US State Department and Homeland Security
      Department officials participated.

      He effectively shrugged off claims by Janice Jacobs, the deputy
      assistant secretary for visa services, and Lora Ries, the policy
      director for immigration, that the government was slowly getting a
      handle on the problem.

      Reinsch, whose council is a leading advocacy group for the US
      private sector, said he had met company representatives only last
      month and that the problem had not been contained.

      "There were idiosyncratic improvements here and there around the
      edges but I think the problem persists," he said.

      A recent study by the Santangelo Group, a Washington-based global
      business consulting firm, said that business visa processing delays
      and denials cost the US economy at least 30 billion dollars during
      the year up to the summer of 2004.

      It cited difficulties faced by business travellers from India,
      China, Russia, Malaysia, Indonesia and South Korea, among other
      economies.

      Microsoft boss Bill Gates, speaking at the World Economic Forum in
      Davos just this week, complained that stringent visa rules had a
      negative effect on his company's competitiveness in the global
      software market.

      "There has been a 35 percent drop in Asians coming to our computer
      science departments ... It really is a very bad thing for a very key
      area," he was quoted saying. The US position as the "global IQ
      magnet of the world" is being threatened, he warned.

      Reinsch said US companies were finding it difficult to get customers
      into the country to negotiate deals or attend trade shows.

      They also faced problems sending executives for training or
      personally participating in collaborative software or hi-tech
      ventures.

      One American company quoted its Chinese client saying "we just don't
      like to come to America anymore, it is too hard, too complicated, we
      are not welcome," Reinsch said.

      He cited another example where a group of Chinese engineers, who
      could not obtain a US visa, were wooed by a European company with
      personal help from the ambassador of the country involved.

      In another case, a US company which temporarily notched up a huge
      contract had to subsequently surrender it to its European branch
      after failing to obtain a visa for its foreign client.

      "What an increasingly large number of companies are going to do in
      response to these kind of problems is simply to avoid the problem by
      moving meetings, collaboration and facilities elsewhere," Reinsch
      said.

      In the long term, for example, companies put off by the visa
      problems are going to set up research centers in China, where there
      are already 400 such centers operating, he said.

      Reinsch said if visa approvals were to be entrusted to officials who
      were concerned only about security and not business concerns, "I
      would suggest that it is going to take a long time to fix the
      perception that has arisen because tweaking isn't going to affect
      the perception."

      http://sg.news.yahoo.com/050202/1/3q9qi.html

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