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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

DID THE UK JUST LAUNCH A TRADE IN SERVICES WAR?

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"You only think I guessed wrong! That's what's so funny! I switched
glasses when your back was turned! Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to
one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a
land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: never go
in against a Sicilian when death is on the line! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha..."

Vizzini, from The Princess Bride


Aside from not getting involved in a land war in Asia (I think the US has found that out a few times in the last few decades), another classic blunder is starting a trade war when your country is in a recession (or, day I utter the word, depression). The knee jerk reaction to cut of imports of goods to save your domestic manufacturers or barring from workers to protect your domestic labor market may feel good. But they have the complete opposite effect of what is intended. They invite retaliation which kills leads to trade wars and has the effect of deepening an prolonging global downturns. Surely, we learned that in the 1930s with the disastrous Smoot-Hawley tariff policy in this country. World trade declined 66% in five years during the trade war of the 1930s and Smoot-Hawley certainly was one of the reasons why.

The UK's Prime Minister seems to have flunked world history. Why else would they be announcing plans to halve the number of high-skilled work visas in that country? Perhaps some people don't consider work visas a form of trade, but I would counter that labor is THE most important component of production at many companies. Payroll is often a company's most expensive overhead item and finding suitably skilled workers is frequently a company's biggest challenge in remaining competitive. Visa policy IS trade policy.

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Comments

  1. Mike's Avatar
    This is interesting that the UK would go down this road. I was reading an article in the Singapore papers and here is what the Prime Minister has to say: -


    'No' to sending foreigners back

    SENDING back foreign workers now will backfire on Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has warned. In some countries, he said, there are emotional protests by workers and unions against foreign workers and immigrants. In the United Kingdom, for instance, Polish workers are resented by the local labour force.

    "But taking away one foreign worker does not mean one more job for a Singaporean worker. Without foreign workers, the company may close down, or decide to shift the entire business out of Singapore," he told unionists at the Singapore Tripartism Forum held yesterday.

    This would harm our reputation and deter MNCs from bringing future investment and jobs to Singapore, he added.

    In fact, PM Lee pointed out that foreign workers are crucial to the economy -- they take on jobs many Singaporeans do not want to do, like shift work.

    "The first shift is all done by Singaporeans, the second shift -- we have a mix of Singaporeans and foreign workers, but the night shift is all done by foreign workers," said PM Lee.

    It was, perhaps, the strongest endorsement on foreign workers to have emerged in recent weeks, amid populist clamour that getting rid of foreign workers will help save jobs for Singaporeans.

    Instead, the right thing to do is to make Singaporean workers more attractive to businesses, through Spur and the Jobs Credit scheme. But "everyone has to work together to help Singapore pull through", he added.

    Unionists whom Today spoke to agreed.

    "For the hotel industry in particular, certain positions like cleaners and chambermaids are difficult to fill," said Mr Abdul Subhan Hussein, the president of the Food, Drinks and Allied Workers' Union. "All these cleaners and chambermaids are retired or mature workers who started when they were young girls. There is no replacement rate for these Singaporean workers," he said. "If we don't have foreign workers, we won't be able to run a hotel."

    Likewise, Singapore Industrial and Services Employees' Union president Tan Peng Heng feels that foreign workers act as a "cushion for Singaporeans" by helping businesses stay afloat.
  2. Another voice's Avatar
    We did the "Buy American" in the stimulus bill recently passed, I think politicians can't help themselves in tough times with populist measures. Canada is also strongly restricting the skilled worker visas, they changed the rules in November and thousands of people are getting rejected, they expect further restrictions as labor markets worsen. What remains a mystery in their logic is that the initially were recruiting these workers due to their aging population and declining tax revenues, that has not changed therefore these measures can only be temporary until economies around the world recover.
  3. George Chell's Avatar
    They just set the stage for British jobs moving to Singapore!!
  4. George Chell's Avatar
    But, they are not as dumb as the English..(sorry the British)

    http://www.globalvisas.com/news/student_visas_for_canada_to_be_increased900.html

    "Last year Canada granted almost 75,000 student visas but plans to increase the numbers because foreign students bring in extra revenue and offers a direct route to citizenship. As the country is facing an ageing population crisis, welcoming international students is deemed a good way of tackling this problem.

    "While other countries are talking about taking fewer immigrants, today, I am pleased to announce that in 2008, we increased the number of new permanent residents to Canada," said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney."
  5. George Chell's Avatar
    Another delude academic who thinks that if foreigners dont come in, jobs will go to Australians...

    http://www.australianit.news.com.au/story/0,24897,25081589-15306,00.html

    These guys never learn!
  6. George Chell's Avatar
    What do the English expect, if they restrict skilled immigrant?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/feb/23/foreign-students
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