The U.S. is struggling to keep up with surging demand for visas in China and Brazil, as the growing middle class in the world’s two biggest emerging markets flock to American shopping malls and tourist meccas.Ooh, the irony. Consider: (1) America's bad habit of relying too much on consumer spending to fuel growth in recent decades may now have put into place an infrastructure for accommodating tourists visiting the US in its sunset years before its hegemony passes into The Great Strip Mall in the Sky. Also, (2) with any number of consumer goods now Made in China, the Chinese may in more than a few instances be buying products made at home that have become relatively more affordable Stateside due to dollar devaluation.
The U.S. plans to boost by 100 people this year its staff dedicated to processing visas in the two countries after it issued 35 percent more travel permits in China this year and 44 percent more in Brazil, Ed Ramotowski, managing director for U.S. visas, said in a conference call with reporters yesterday.
“It’s a function of the robust economy in Brazil,” Donald Jacobson, who oversees visa operations at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, said in the same conference call. “Their currency is very strong against the dollar and Brazilians are coming to America to visit Disney World and do lots of shopping.”
To promote job growth and welcome more visitors from the increasingly affluent countries, the U.S. hopes it can handle up to 4 million visa applications in the two countries by 2013, more than double the current amount, Ramotowski said. Together the two countries accounted for about 1.8 million of the 7.5 million visas issued last year.
shopping binges in America--where goods are admittedly still among the cheapest in the world. They're also seeing the sights while they're at it: