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India, Italy agree to ease business visa norms


New Delhi : India and Italy Tuesday agreed to liberalise business visa norms in a bid to boost bilateral trade and investments.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma discussed the visa issue with visiting Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Maria Terzi di Sant’ Agata.

“Implementation of a liberalised business visa regime will lead to even greater levels of cooperation and partnership between the business communities of the two countries,” Sharma said in the meeting.

According to an official statement released after the meeting, the Italian foreign minister assured that the visa process would be streamlined and “informed that already there is a significant rise in number of business visa”.

Sharma suggested that apex business chambers of the two countries should be appointed the nodal agency for certifying the candidates for long duration business visa.

Currently, India provides multiple entry long duration (one year) visa to Italian businesspersons.

Both ministers asked joint working groups to give their recommendations for easing bilateral trade and investment norms.

India and Italy have five joint working groups on infrastructure, manufacturing, innovation and science and information and communication technology, and pharmaceuticals.

According to the statement released after the meeting, the ministers directed the officials to explore the possibility of two more working groups on tourism and hospitality and agro-processing.

Italy is India’s fifth largest trading partner in the European Union. Bilateral trade between the two countries grew by 21.27 percent (year-on-year) to $8.81 billion in 2010-11.

Trade basket is fairly balanced. India’s exports to Italy was $4.55 billion, while import was $4.26 billion in 2010-11.