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Indian multiple-entry business visa for Brics entrepreneurs

Posted on July 13, 2015
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NEW DELHI: India, with support from South Africa, is hoping to push for a proposal at the July 9 Brics Summit in Russia for special multiple-entry business visas for entrepreneurs from the five member states for easier travel among the countries of the grouping.

The proposal envisages simplifying visas for five-year validity with multiple entries to all Brics countries with an eye on increasing trade volume and investments among the member states. The grouping includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The issue was discussed during the ninth India-South Africa Joint Commission meeting in Durban in May, people familiar with the matter said. “Areas for consideration would include the extension of multiple entry business visas for longer periods and the exploration of the proposal to introduce a Brics Business Travel Card.

Minister Swaraj welcomed South Africa’s decision to issue long-term, multiple entry visas for business executives from Brics countries,” said a joint communique at the end of the joint commission meeting, in which India was led by foreign minister Sushma Swaraj. The idea for Brics business travel card or special business visa was mooted first at the end of the fifth Brics Summit in South Africa in 2013.

Russia and Brazil have had reservations on the special visas in the past, but the Brics member states are trying to narrow down the differences on the issue. Brics nations account for nearly $16 trillion in GDP and 40% of the world’s population, presenting huge opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors. India’s stand has been further strengthened with the announcement of e-visas for Chinese tourists.

Indian entrepreneurs keen to expand their footprints in Russia had moved the government to take up withRussian government the need for simplification of grant of business visas, officials said. India-Russia business relations are not commensurate with bilateral political ties and strategic partnership. Bilateral trade increased from $1.6 billion in 2001-02 to $6.35 billion in 2014-15. While Indian exports declined 1%, imports from Russia grew about 9% last fiscal.

However, there is potential for far bigger bilateral trade between India and Russia, prospects for which have brightened following transport corridors in Central Asia and prospective nuclear deal with Iran that might open new routes for Eurasian region.

While Russia is the eighth biggest exporter in the world, with exports of over $490 billion in 2014, its share in India’s imports is a minuscule 0.95%. India’s share in Russia’s imports is lower still, at a mere 0.78%.

South Africa is already giving businessmen from Brics easier access to the country. “I have approved the issuance of port of entry visas to Brics business executives for up to 10 years, with each visit not to exceed30 days,” said South Africa’s home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba.

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