Will explore possibility of providing long-term multiple entry visas for up to 3 years

Responding to the concerns raised by Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma on grant of visa to Indian professionals and businessmen, Italy on Tuesday assured that it would take effective steps to simplify the visa regime.

Mr. Sharma met Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini in Rome and raised the issue of simplification of visa procedures, an official statement issued here said.

“The Foreign Minister of Italy assured Mr. Sharma that major simplification will be made in the visa regime for business, students and researchers and official/diplomatic passport holders.” Indian professionals, particularly from the IT sector, face hassles while applying for visas for European countries.

Mr. Frattini said that under the new Schengen visa regime, flexibilities provided for the national visa regime will be explored fully for giving long-term multiple entry visas for up to 3 years for these categories. The Minister also said that he will explore the possibility of using the certification from industry chambers from both the countries to certify the credentials for business visa.

Mr. Sharma, who is on a three-day visit to Italy, said the trade between the two countries grew at over 25 per cent in 2010, after a decline due to the global crisis. Both the countries should take steps to double the bilateral trade in the next five years. “We could work towards a target of doubling our bilateral trade to €12 billion ($17.5 billion) in the next five years,” he remarked.

The two-way commerce stood at $7.26 billion in 2009-10.

Mr. Sharma also said both the countries could cooperate in several sectors, including food processing, renewable energy, infrastructure and high technology. Both the Ministers agreed to form a Joint Business Council, managed by The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Italian Confindustria, the statement said. The JBC will meet once a year coinciding with the bilateral ministerial meeting.

Mr. Sharma said India was also keen on upgrading technology and skills of the leather sector. Both sides agreed to hold ‘Leather Show' at Milan next year.

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