India, Portugal to liberalise visa norms

New Delhi, March 5 (IANS) India and Portugal Tuesday agreed to liberalise visa norms, especially for officials and business travellers, with a view to boosting trade and investment.

India's Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and Portugal's Foreign Affairs Minister Paulo Portas discussed the matter at a meeting here and agreed on the need for liberalisation of visa norms.

Sharma said India and Portugal were working towards the conclusion of an 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," Sharma said.

On the issue of business visa, 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, according to an official statement released after the meeting.

Addressing an event organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here, Portas called for doubling of bilateral trade between Portugal and India.

"When I look at India-Portugal economic bilateral relations, the volume of bilateral trade is unbalanced and still at a low level - in 2012 total trade in goods and services amounted to only 500 million euros. It's low, we can do much more," Portas said.