US Wants to Import Shoppers to Boost Economy

Monday, 03 Oct 2011 10:22 AM

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A broad group of government officials, business leaders, and legislators is working to convince the wealthy from Brazil, China, and India to do their shopping in America’s malls.

Those pushing the plan with enticements, such as coupons and tourist visa reform, believe an influx of foreign shoppers could mean 1.3 million jobs and $859 billion in the next decade, according to The Washington Post.
 “They’re their own little stimulus program,” David French, senior vice president for government relations at the National Retail Federation, told the Post. Many of the products that retailers are hoping the foreigners buy, such as shoes and clothing, are now made overseas creating a $45 billion trade imbalance.

Guo Hui, a recent shopper from Beijing, spent $6,000 on such things as clothing, laptops, baby food, and sneakers at prices far below the items would cost in China. He told the Post he bought a pair of Adidas sneakers for $25 at an outlet mall, noting: “For that price in China, you can’t even buy counterfeits.”

President Barack Obama’s jobs council is supporting international travel to stimulate the economy, and the Corporation for Travel Promotion, a public-private group created by Congress, is to announce the first U.S. advertising campaign to promote the nation as a tourist destination.

While most international tourist dollars come from Canada, Japan, and Britain, Chinese spending is quickly growing. It is up 39 percent in 2010 to $5 billion, and Brazil had a 30 percent increase to $6 billion, while India’s spending rose 12 percent to $4 billion, the Post reported.

“I don’t think you can expect foreign tourism to be a silver bullet” for the economy, Brian Bethune, an economics professor at Amherst College, told the Post. “But it makes an important difference. . . . It’s a no-brainer in some sense.”

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