Eye on business, India to ease visa norms for China

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October 16, 2013

NEW DELHI: While looking to reduce border tensions, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will seek to prioritize investment and business by easing norms for business and tourist visas during his visit to China next week.

October 16, 2013

NEW DELHI: While looking to reduce border tensions, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will seek to prioritize investment and business by easing norms for business and tourist visas during his visit to China next week.

Increasing the tenure of business visas to one year from the current six months with multi-entry provision and ensuring home ministry security clearance within 30 days for "project visas" are key aspects of the agreement.

The emphasis is significant as security concerns dog Chinese investments in several sectors like telecom and the PM's visit is expected to have a strong business focus at a time when the economy has become an electoral hot button issue.

The proposal, to be considered by the Cabinet on Thursday, refers to increased FDI inflows from China and a burgeoning Chinese role in infrastructure projects to back a liberalized visa regime that eases rigors of doing business in India.

In weighing the security versus investment debate, the government seems to have prioritized growth and pared the arguments put forward for stricter scrutiny of Chinese visa applicants although it does not do away with the requirements for clearances from the home ministry.

Before he reaches Beijing next week, the PM will be in Moscow where he will have less security related concerns with regard to boosting economic ties. In both capitals, business will be high on his agenda.

The mandatory two-month gap between exit and re-entry for tourist visas is also sought to be done away with a view to attract more Chinese visitors to India.

The government sees a 5% GDP rate as the "political" threshold and estimates that anything below this marker will prove electorally prohibitive. Singh can be expected to do his bit to drum up business during his visits.

The Cabinet proposal seeks to revisit the 2003 protocol in the light of a massive expansion of India-China trade and also bats for an expansion of people-to-people ties. It refers to demands by Indian businesses, particularly the information technology sector, for easier visa rules for Chinese.

The easier visa rules will also help a greater exchange of delegates attending academic or business meetings and conferences.

The longer term business visa will, however, be available to regular visitors with the tenure being just three months in the first instance. The decisions are expected to be reciprocated by the Chinese side.


Courtesy: PTI