SOP in Final Stages to Facilitate Visa for Chinese Technicians Needed in Mfg Units: Official

Rollout of SOPs does not require any approval from the Union cabinet as it is an internal process to relax norms "a bit" for facilitating visa applications of Chinese professionals or technicians whose expertise is required by domestic manufacturing units
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After formulating a standard operating procedure (SOP) for streamlining visa approvals for Chinese professionals whose expertise is required by vendors under the PLI scheme, the government is in the final stages to put in place similar processes for other manufacturing units, an official said.

The move assumes significance as some domestic manufacturing firms have flagged the issue of delay in getting visas for Chinese technicians, who are required for works like installation or repair of certain machines, besides training workers in India.

"Most of the PLI (production-linked incentive scheme) visas have been taken care of. For general manufacturing also, we are trying to create a better streamlined SOP... that is with the Ministry of Home Affairs. It's at the final stages. We are hoping to sort it out. We have done a lot of sensitisation," the official said.

The rollout of SOPs does not require any approval from the Union cabinet as it is an internal process to relax norms "a bit" for facilitating visa applications of Chinese professionals or technicians whose expertise is required by domestic manufacturing units, the official added.

Normally, these experts require a visa for 3-6 months. Hailing the move, an industry official said an SOP will help greatly as these manufacturing units need some expertise from Chinese professionals.

"The SOP will be a very good decision. Chinese technicians are working in countries like Vietnam and Cambodia in the footwear sector. They are affordable also compared to Taiwanese or other experts. It will help upscale our production," leading footwear manufacturer and Chairman of Chennai-based Farida Group Rafeeq Ahmed said.

The PLI scheme was announced in 2021 for 14 sectors, including telecommunication, white goods, textiles, manufacturing of medical devices, automobiles, speciality steel, food products, high-efficiency solar PV modules, advanced chemistry cell battery, drones, and pharma with an outlay of Rs 1.97 lakh crore.

So far, Rs 9,700 crore has been disbursed to PLI beneficiaries. In 2023-24, the figure was Rs 6,800 crore, the official said. Investments by Chinese firms in India are also subject to greater scrutiny after the issuance of press note 3 by the government in April 2020.

Under Press Note 3, the government has made prior approval mandatory for foreign investments from countries that share a land border with India. These countries are China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar and Afghanistan.

As per that decision, FDI proposals from these countries need government approval for investments in India in any sector.

India has received only USD 2.5 billion foreign direct investments (FDI) from China during April 2000 and March 2024.

According to industry experts, trade and investment relations between the two countries are not so cordial after the border standoff.

The Indian and Chinese militaries have been locked in a standoff since May 2020 and a full resolution of the border row has not yet been achieved, though the two sides have disengaged from a number of friction points.

India has been consistently maintaining that peace and tranquillity along the LAC were key for normalisation of overall ties.

Indian companies face issues in exporting goods to China because of non-tariff barriers there. India's exports to China in 2023-24 stood at USD 16.65 billion as against USD 15.3 billion in 2022-23, while imports surged to USD 101.74 billion from USD 98.5 billion in 2022-23.

The government has taken a series of steps, such as rolling out PLI schemes and mandatory quality control norms, to reduce dependence on Chinese goods.

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