India will explore the introduction of the BRICS Business Travel Card which would facilitate the ease of doing business in the five countries. This was announced during the Indian Foreign Minister, Sushma Swaraj’s visit to South Africa on Tuesday.
“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 communiqué of the 9th India-South Africa Ministerial conference in Durban on Tuesday.
The BRICS Business Travel Card is aimed at simplifying different kinds of visas and proposes a five-year validity with multiple entry for all BRICS nations.
The BRICS countries comprised 40 per cent of the world’s population.
A joint statement at the end of the 5th BRICS Summit in Durban, South Africa, announced the BRICS Business Travel Card that will make it easier for business persons to move across member countries, and strike trade and investment deals much faster.
New Delhi’s nod to the proposal, held up earlier due to security concerns raised by the Indian Home Ministry, seems more likely now after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced electronic visas for Chinese travelers during his trip to Beijing last week.
Modi is trying to improve India’s business climate. One of his immediate goals is to boost India’s position on the World Bank’s ease of doing business index, which tracks regulations and surveys experts.
Since taking power last May, Modi has allowed more foreign investment and implored manufacturers to open factories in India.
South Africa has already announced the easing of visa restrictions for BRICS travelers.
Business executives from BRICS countries, who apply for a visa to visit South Africa for short business trips, will receive a long-term visa allowing them multiple entries for up to 10 years.
“I have approved the issuance of port of entry visas to BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India and China) business executives for up to 10 years, with each visit not to exceed 30 days,” said Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba in February this year.
The long-term visa applies to diplomatic, official/service and ordinary passport holders.
Meanwhile, South Africa welcomed India’s appointment of the first BRICS Bank President earlier this month.
“Both sides will collaborate to ensure that the BRICS New Development Bank and its Africa Regional Centre in South Africa start operation at an early date,” said the joint communiqué on Tuesday.
“Both sides acknowledged the significant role played by the BRICS mechanism in achieving more representative and equitable global governance, and promoting more inclusive global growth. The two sides agreed to enhance coordination and cooperation within the BRICS mechanism, with a view to improving global political and economic governance, and enhancing the voice of emerging markets and developing countries in international affairs,” it added.
Indian Foreign Minister Swaraj met her South African counterpart Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and President Jacob Zuma during her trip to South Africa.
Zuma will hold talks with Indian Prime Minister during the 7th BRICS Summit in Russia from 8-9 July.
Zuma is also expected to participate in the third India-Africa Forum Summit in October this year.