South African Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, announced end of February that business and diplomatic travellers from South Africa’s BRICS partners will receive port of entry visas into South Africa. These visas will be issued for up to ten (10) years to BRICS business travellers and has been effective since 23 December 2014.
South Africa’s BRICS partners include Brazil, Russia, India and China.
More importantly, these visas apply to diplomatic, official and service as well as ordinary passport holders and will be issued as multiple-travel entry visas, with a special condition of a stay no longer than 30 days at a time.
The arrangement may well be extended to other countries which had “significant investments” locally.
Mr Gigaba said he would soon announce a panel of experts to conduct a complete review of the system used to issue visas and that home affairs will continuously look for opportunities to improve the entry of these commercial visitors. He further advised that a “trusted traveller system” would be available to business people outside BRICS.
Mr Gigaba said this new decision was implemented after discussions with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the BRICS Business Council, and it was anticipated that the move would increase investment from those countries into South Africa.
Responding to a question, Mr Gigaba said he did not think that the new BRICS arrangement would anger some of South Africa’s long-standing trading partners in Britain, Europe, and the USA as they automatically obtain visas for up to 90 days upon entry into South Africa.
** BRICS is the acronym for an association of five countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The grouping was originally known as ‘BRIC” before South Africa joined in 2010.
The BRICS members are all developing or newly industrialised countries, but they are distinguished by their large, fast-growing economies and significant influence on regional and global affairs. They are all commonly known for their emerging national economies.