New United Kingdom visa requirements for South Africans were not expected to have any major impact on trade between the two countries, Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said yesterday.
"In terms of trade, the imposition of the visa requirements by the UK will not derail 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 to deal with its own security problems.
"We have had to be subjected to quite a rigorous process in home affairs by the UK. 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. Some 400000 South African travellers could be affected by the new visa rules.
Minister of Public Service and Administration Richard Baloyi said at yesterday'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 next month. - Sapa