ID :
Wed, 09/21/2011 - 19:17
Auther :

India says regular business trips possible if Pakistan agrees

New Delhi, September 21, 2011 (PPI): India is willing to consider a more liberal business visa regime but wants Pakistan to table an offer first, a government official said ahead of the visit of Pakistan's Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim next week.

"India has already communicated to Pakistan that it should come up with suggestions for a flexible visa regime and the country will try to match its offer," the official told Economic Times newspaper.

Makhdoom Fahim will be second Pakistani minister to visit India in the past two months, signalling growing interest on both sides to improve bilateral ties. Commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma is scheduled to meet his Pakistani counterpart on September 28 in New Delhi, where the two are expected to lay down the process for making issuance of visas easier.

Business persons from both sides have been seeking end to the restrictive visa regime of their respective countries. "There is a need to speed up visa processing as it takes more than a month for the document to be issued," said Rajiv Kumar, secretary general, Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry FICCI. Moreover, visas are for single entry and if entrepreneurs need to make several visits to seal and implement a business deal, they have to get a fresh visa each time.

"We have suggested that multiple-entry business visas may be granted to business people recommended by both FICCI and Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry," Kumar said.

Both sides may also consider abolishing issuance of city-specific business visas and removing restrictions on port of embarkation and disembarkation, Indian official said. "Since business people want to meet their contacts in more than one or two cities, they need freedom to travel to any city at will. This would certainly be considered."

The issue was discussed in detail last month during meeting of joint secretaries from both countries in New Delhi, taking forward agenda laid down by their respective commerce secretaries in Islamabad in April. Pakistani officials had suggested that the issue of business visas should be separately discussed by a subgroup comprising members from relevant ministries from both sides.