New York Needs Chinese Business Travelers

Justin Fox knows what

needs to be done to keep New York competitive with London as a financial


The immigration people at Heathrow are polite to non-UK-citizens and usually

get them through the line very quickly. I know that from personal experience.

Meanwhile, I’ve heard from lots of foreigners that coming through immigration

at Kennedy (and elsewhere in the U.S.) is an excruciatingly slow and often

demeaning process. This is potentially disastrous for the long-term prospects

of both New York and the U.S. in general. And while I’m being sort of jokey

in the rest of this post, I’m dead serious about this: Discouraging foreign

businesspeople from visiting the U.S., which we now effectively do, is a potentially

disastrous policy.

Quite right. In fact, it’s a much, much bigger issue than putting more and

friendlier immigration officers on staff at JFK. The really big issue is allowing

business people to visit NYC on business in the first place.

Many international executives simply can’t get a visa to visit the US, or if

they can it takes months. This applies especially to businessmen from what is

arguably the world’s largest economy, China. If NYC wants to remain relevant,

it has to start looking west rather than east, and taking full advantage of

the US’s Pacific Rim status. That means encouraging, not discouraging, human

business links with China.

Have you ever wondered why Hank Paulson spent so much time flying

back and forth to China when he was CEO of Goldman Sachs? Yes, the country was

important to him, but it wasn’t that important. Rather, it was the

one country where he had to go there, because they were simply incapable of

coming here.

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