United States Woos Foreign Shoppers to Boost Sagging American Economy
New York, NY
The U.S. is planning visa reforms in a bid to boost the sagging American economy. The plan is to entice consumers from emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil to come and shop in the U.S. as local consumers tighten their hold on purses.
Among the incentives to the foreign shoppers would be coupons, beauty contests and lax visa rules in a bid to generate 1.3 million new jobs and inject an additional $859 billion in the domestic economy over the next 10 years.
David French, senior vice president for government relations of the National Retail Federation, described the efforts as the retail industry's own little stimulus program.
A Chinese tourist, who recently went to the U.S. for a vacation and spent $6,000, said prices in the U.S. of consumer items are lower in America than in China. The tourist cited a pair of Adidas sneakers which costs $25 in the U.S., which could not even buy a counterfeit of the athletic shoe brand in China.
China's and India's gross domestic product went beyond 10 percent in 2010, Brazil's reached 7.5 percent, while for the same year the U.S. economy clocked an anemic 3 percent growth rate.
The Corporation for Travel Protection, set up by Congress last year, is scheduled to announce in October the first U.S. advertising campaign to promote the U.S. as a tourist destination.
Although the bulk of tourism dollars still come from Canadian, Japanese and British tourists, Chinese tourist spending grew 39 percent in 2010 to $5 billion, Brazilian by 30 percent to $6 billion and Indian by 12 percent to $4 billion.
In a bid to attract more Chinese tourist, the Nevada Commission on Tourism won a bid to host the semifinal round of the Miss Chinese Cosmos beauty pageant. The 18 contestants toured the state and their seven-day trip, which ended last week, was broadcast to 225 million viewers in China.
The looming change of policy came at the same time that a study from BlackRock Investment Institute said that consumer spending in the U.S. will likely remain stagnant for years as American consumers cut debt and build up savings.
The basis of the gloomy outlook is ratio of household debt to personal income at 154 percent, which indicates the ratio went down only 7.5 percent from pre-recession high.
BlackRock said American shoppers would unlikely increase their debt or make new ones even if interest rates plummet close to zero. Until the recession, consumer demand made more than 70 percent of the U.S. economy, but latest data from the Labor Department said consumer spending dipped 2 percent in 2010 from a 2.9 percent decline in 2009.
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