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Indian business in South Africa welcomes new visa regime

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: October 4, 2018  | 02:42 IST

By Fakir Hassen Johannesburg, Oct 4 (PTI) Indian businesses in South Africa have cautiously welcomed the new visa regime change for India and China that South African authorities plan to implement by the end of this month. Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba recently announced measures to make it easier for tourists, business people and academia to come to South Africa, including a visa on arrival process for business travellers from India and China. Business travellers from BRICS partners India and China will now be issued a 10-year multiple entry visa, within five days of application. "This is a very positive step in the right direction, but we will have to study the requirements in detail first," said the chairman of the India-South Africa Business Forum, Jitin Bhatia. "We have been asking for a relaxed visa regime for Indian business travellers for a long time and this is a very welcome move which our members are very excited about. But there are also other visa issues which need some attention to support our view that the current trade and investment of USD 5 billion can be boosted to triple that within the next three to four years if some other steps are implemented," he said. Bhatia said these included easing current visa requirements for Indian companies who want to bring top executives to South Africa to spend more time here. "Currently only inter-company transfers with the proviso of transferring skills are allowed, with a maximum stay of four years per visa. But we need to have a visa regime where executives such as CEOs and CFOs are allowed to stay longer to build up the companies, and also recognition that such skills cannot easily be transferred," Bhatia said. High Commissioner for India Ruchira Kamboj also welcomed the new South African visa requirements. "We will be meeting with the Ministry of Home Affairs and hope to soon sign a bilateral agreement with South Africa on the visa arrangements," Kamboj said. "We are also in negotiations to start the next step in boosting business between the two countries, which is the reintroduction of direct flights between India and South Africa," she added. Business travellers in both countries have long lamented the lengthy travel via other countries to reach South Africa as a barrier in trade and investment. "Over 100 Indian companies represented in South Africa currently employ about 18,000 South Africans and this can be upped as well with the steps to ease movement between our two countries, in line with the objectives being shared globally currently by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa," Kamboj said. The diplomat said she had also met Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom last week to discuss boosting tourism between their nations. Hanekom has been at the forefront of calling for stringent travel requirements for children to be eased, which has now also been announced by Gigaba. Local travel agents specialising in tourism from India earlier said that numbers had fallen due to these requirements and expressed hope that Indians would now come to South Africa in greater numbers. PTI FH KUN KUN

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