UK Politics

Vince Cable: UK borders must be open to genuine investors

Vince Cable
Image caption China is emerging as "the new economic superpower", Mr Cable said

The UK's borders must be "as open as possible" to genuine foreign visitors and business investment, Business Secretary Vince Cable has said.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Cable said the UK was not "inward looking" and welcomed ideas and talent.

But there was evidence that Chinese visitors saw the visa system as "unfriendly and inflexible", he said.

Home Secretary Theresa May has expressed concerns about relaxing the visa system for Chinese tourists.

And immigration minister Mark Harper recently said rules intended to encourage entrepreneurs to settle in the UK were being abused and needed to be tightened.

Mr Cable said: "Of course, it is necessary to prevent abuse of the immigration rules. But equally we cannot allow red tape to deter the very people that we want to come to the UK and help make the economy stronger.

"We want to create and promote an image of Britain which means and delivers what it says on the tin: open for global business."

'Massive coup'

The business secretary continued: "It is my job in government to champion British business, universities and science, all of which require that our border controls are administered with a minimum of fuss and bureaucracy."

He added: "Immigration is an emotional subject and it is important that the public is reassured that it is under control. But the administration of it has to be business-like, supportive of economic growth and welcoming to genuine visitors."

He said a new store on London's Regent Street represented a £35m investment from a Chinese business.

"This was a massive coup for the UK capital, showing not only the high esteem in which Chinese businesses hold British skills, but also the big retail opportunity that the UK represents," he wrote.

But the company's bosses would be obliged to fill out a six-page form and have their fingerprints taken if they wanted to visit the store, Mr Cable said.

"By contrast, our European competitors have a faster, simpler system which then enables visitors to travel freely."

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