Minister: New UK visa rules won't affect trade

New UK visa requirements for South Africans are not expected to have any major impact on trade between the two countries, Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said on Tuesday.

“In terms of trade, the imposition of the visa requirements by the United Kingdom will not derail any plans and programmes that are in place,” Mapisa-Nqakula said at a government and administration cluster briefing in Pretoria.

She said the UK had imposed a visa test on many other countries, not only South Africa. The UK was trying to deal with its own security problems by imposing the test.

“We have had to be subjected to quite a rigorous process in home affairs by the UK.”

She added: “The UK has written us a letter, acknowledging that we are doing a lot to improve the security of our passports and identity documents.”

The UK announced on February 9 that South African passport holders would in future need visas to travel there. This was due to the relative ease with which non-South Africans had been able to get legitimate South African passports fraudulently.

A number of British teams travelled to South Africa to look at the systems and to recommend measures that needed to be put in place before the visa requirement was announced.

A government spokesperson said that the time frame given to address the challenges—by December last year—was not sufficient.

Some 400 000 South African travellers could be affected by the new visa rules.

Minister of Public Service and Administration Richard Baloyi said at Tuesday’s briefing that preparations to progress from a barcode to a smart-card passport “were at an advanced stage”.

The new passports, with top-secret security features, were expected to be ready by April.—Sapa

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