EB-5 Immigrants with managerial skills give the U.S. a competitive advantage over China
A University of Southern California academic makes a compelling case that EB-5 visas attract the kind of immigrants the U.S. needs for a competitive advantage in the battle with China for international economic dominance.
While the trade war with China is the focus of the U.S. struggle with that country for international business, Benjamin A.T. Graham an associate professor with the University of Southern California, asserts that the American immigration policy may be just as important in determining American success.
China is emerging as a key player in foreign investment in developing regions in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. But the U.S. has a major advantage in its large number of immigrants with business experience. China only has only a million immigrants compared with 50 million in the U.S. And Graham says that this essential difference between the two nations is a major competitive advantage for America.
In particular, immigrants have social and political connections in their homelands that, when combined with their business and political influence in the U.S, allow them to “bridge the gap between American companies and valuable networks in developing countries,” says Graham.
He points out that in developing nations, personal relationships often wield more power in the business and political realm. And immigrants with business skills have the kind of connections — with friends and family and colleagues in their home countries — that get things done.
Graham’s research shows that immigrant-affiliated companies are better connected and equipped in dealing with foreign business. An interesting fact is that a business owned or managed by an immigrant is four times more likely to have a current or former government official on their board of directors. And such a business is more than twice as likely to use their owner or manger’s personal relationships in navigating foreign government relationships. Further, immigrant-affiliated businesses were almost twice as likely to say they have succeeded in influencing the political policies in their mother country.
Of note, Graham alludes to research by economist Ana Cuadros says who suggests this kind of foreign political influence is only a factor for U.S. immigrants with managerial skills — it does not exist for lower-skilled immigrants.
If the current administration truly wants a “merit-based” immigration system, this research a compelling case for the U.S. to bring in more wealthy and educated immigrants. The kind EB-5 attracts. Hopefully, American politicians can recognize that these experienced business people give the U.S. a unique business advantage over China and other competitors.