India, Germany to set up hotline for resolving visa issues

India, Germany to set up hotline for resolving visa issues

Berlin: India and Germany have agreed to set up hotline at a high government level to resolve visa problems faced by business persons of the two countries.

“We have reached an understanding to address any issue connected with investment or the movement of professionals and business leaders," Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said last week-end after his meeting with German Minister of Economics and Technologies Rainer Bruderle.

He said both the governments have “agreed to establish hotline which will function for visas of the business people and skilled professionals".

Of late, Indian businessmen have been complaining about difficulties in obtaining German visas. “Even the government officials on different projects find it hard to get visas for their family members", said an Indian official.

The German minister said, meanwhile, that the grant of visas is a two-way street. “Some German companies also face the visa problem (in India)..that is the hotline" Bruderle said.

India, the world’s second fastest growing economy (with over 8.5 % growth) and Germany, the largest member of the European Union (EU) have set a bilateral target of Euro 20 billion by 2012. Easing of visa restrictions is considered a key requirement to achieving the trade target.

Sharma and Bruderle also reviewed the progress of talks between India and the 27-nation EU on reaching a broad-based agreement to open trade and investment.

Sharma said negotiations on the much-delayed India-EU Free Trade Agreement have been put on the fast track. The ministers of the two sides would meet in Brussels in November, he said, adding the talks are expected to be concluded by end of December.

As for the bilateral ties, Sharma said India and Germany have agreed for institutional cooperation. New Delhi-based Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) and the Ahmedabad-based National Institute of Design would forge linkages with their counterparts in Germany, he said.

In the run-up to the G-20 heads of state meeting in South Korea in November, Bruderle said both Germany and India were against protectionism. “India and Germany are side by side," he said.