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India may push for long-term visas in proposed free trade deal with UAE

India may push for long-term visas in proposed free trade deal with UAE

India may press for issuing long-term visas to exporters from the country to the UAE as part of a new partnership deal being negotiated under a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with the Gulf country, according to officials familiar with the ongoing talks. Easier movement of service professionals under Mode-4 of services of the World

India may press for issuing long-term visas to exporters from the country to the UAE as part of a new partnership deal being negotiated under a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with the Gulf country, according to officials familiar with the ongoing talks.

Easier movement of service professionals under Mode-4 of services of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is another demand which could figure in New Delhi’s wish list for the FTA negotiations with the UAE.

“Business demand for a long-term visa so that exporters may not be required to apply for visa time and again, as currently mandated, and easier movement of persons under Mode-4 of services, should be addressed and vigorously pursued in the proposed partnership [with the UAE],” said the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), India’s premier trade promotion body, in a note to the government.

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Trade experts said several countries, including the US, the UK and the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) group of countries issue long-term, multiple entry business visas to entrepreneurs, especially from their major trading and investment partner countries, to promote trade and economic ties.

The UAE has recently announced granting 10-year residency visas to entrepreneurs and few other select categories as part of its golden visa programme. These visas, however, are meant for their relocation to the country.

“The UAE is the third largest trading partner to India and it makes immense sense to have an FTA with it both for the purpose of trade as well as investment,” Dr Ajay Sahai, director general and chief executive officer of FIEO, told Arabian Business.

“Since India has advantage in many of the professional services, easier movement of persons under Mode-4 of services is one area which should be vigorously pursued,” Sahai said.

Sahai added the UAE FTA can be a springboard for India’s further engagement with the GCC countries.

Dr Ajay Sahai, director general and chief executive officer of FIEO.

Under the WTO framework related to services, the movement of natural persons is one of the four ways through which services can be supplied internationally. Known as ‘Mode 4’, it covers natural persons who are either service suppliers – such as independent professionals – or who work for a service supplier and who are present in another WTO member to supply a service.

Mode 4, however, does not concern persons seeking access to the employment market in the host member, nor does it affect measures regarding citizenship, residence or employment on a permanent basis.

India is also working on an ambitious plan to more than double its exports to the UAE in the current fiscal year as part of its efforts to boost bilateral trade with the country under the proposed FTA.

India’s exports to the UAE during April-June posted a 126 percent jump to $6.69 billion from $2.83bn in the corresponding period of last year.

The UAE’s exports to India during this period have registerted a much higher growth at 230 percent to reach $9.15bn from $ 2.77bn.

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