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Mar 06, 2013

India and Portugal to Liberalise Visa Regime

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India and Portugal agreed for the need for an early conclusion of the India-EU Broad based Trade and Investment agreement (BTIA) Negotiations. The Union Minister for Commerce, Industry and Textiles Shri Anand Sharma in a meeting with Mr. Paulo Portas, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal here said that “intensive engagements on part of the two sides are a reflection of their desire to finalising a balanced trade agreement at the earliest. However, ambitions have to be balanced and tempered and a sequential approach has to be followed to ensure early closure of negotiations”. He further conveyed to the Portuguese Minister that the agreement will lead to an increase in the opportunities for market access in both goods and services for both sides. The India-EU BTIA negotiations are underway with fifteen rounds having been completed, with the last meeting at the Chief Negotiators level being held on 29-30th January this year here. The Ministerial level talks are likely to happen next month.

The Portuguese side wanted to understand the current status of Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement (BIPA). Shri Sharma informed that the Finance Ministry is presently engaged in reviewing the Model Text.

Shri Sharma also said that both India and Portugal are working towards the conclusion of the Agreement on Visa Free Travel for Diplomatic/Official Passport Holders. “Such an agreement would be useful for both sides for facilitating official level exchanges between the two countries,” said Shri Sharma.

On the issue of business visa, Shri Sharma proposed that apex business chambers of both the countries should be empowered to endorse business visa application which should be honoured by the authorities for grant of long term business visas. He also expressed happiness over the fact that India and Portugal are ready to sign the Social Security Agreement.