Published on People Move

The Bridge City and A Rainbow Dream

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Niagara Falls. 

"The Canadian side is better, more developed. They have better hotels."

"Sorry, but we need a visa to enter Canada."

"I forgot. The kids are okay, they are Americans. You and I need visas"

The Rainbow Bridge over Niagara river, connecting Canada and the US. See for the economic benefits of this cross-border bridge. Photo ©Dilip Ratha.

"Which means we can't meet your brothers." Both brothers are recent migrants to Canada. They need visas to enter the US side.


Should we invite them anyway? They could come to the other bank of the river, and we could look at one another (may need binoculars) and speak through cell phones (shouting wouldn't work because of the waterfall). Or there is perhaps a place with iron bars or a glass wall with a hole, like visiting places in prisons in movies, this side US, that side Canada, where we could touch each other, and the new baby...? 

A rainbow dream.

A rainbow spanning two countries. Photo ©Dilip Ratha.

At this point, the older boy, 13, joins the conversation, "Why don't they have a 3 mile corridor between the US and Canada where people from both sides can visit each other?" 

A pause. 

Why not indeed! 

A border corridor where legal residents from both countries mingle freely. Or a bridge city governed by a special international charter that allows visa-free entry to all nationalities.

There are after all charter cities with their own quirky codes of conduct. Lewes a town in Sussex has its own pound. Hong Kong, a special administrative region, allows visa-free entry even to Indians. 

Bridge cities would make huge economic sense. Hong Kong, itself a huge economic success, is China's golden gate to an economic miracle. Many say all aspiring countries need their own golden gate cities. Paul Romer advocates charter cities in developing countries, governed by developed countries.

Why not a bridge city that is governed like a special economic zone, or like a cruise ship sailing international waters, not limited by any particular national law?


Dilip Ratha

Lead Economist and Economic Adviser to the Vice President of Operations, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, World Bank

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