Business leaders recently welcomed new legislation giving U.S. citizens access to the APEC Business Travel Card scheme, a crucial tool for business travel in the Asia-Pacific region.
U.S. President Barack Obama signed the bill before addressing business executives at the APEC CEO Summit earlier this month in Honolulu, Hawaii, describing the scheme as an “APEC business gold card.”
The law allows U.S. business people to apply for the card, increasing their mobility by expediting scheduling of visa interviews and fast-tracking processing at immigration checkpoints in APEC economies throughout the region.
“I just signed a piece of legislation that was voted on unanimously out of Congress that essentially sets up an APEC business gold card,” Obama said. “Everybody here appreciates it because they're not going to have to wait in line as long at the airport."
Deb Henretta, chair of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), welcomed the new law which “will help U.S. citizens take advantage of business and trade opportunities in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region.”
Rich Lavin, group president of Caterpillar, says the law “is good news for U.S. business people as they travel in the region, working to expand into Asia-Pacific markets and business opportunities for their companies.”
The scheme facilitates business travel in the Asia-Pacific by allowing cardholders pre-cleared immigration entry into the 18 fully participating member economies, eliminating the cost and time involved obtaining visas, and expedited transit through special fast-track lanes at major airports and seaports in all 21 economies.
Currently, the United States fast-tracks card holders via special lanes at immigration checkpoints. The new legislation, which passed the US Congress earlier this month, allows US business people to apply for the cards for reciprocal rights in the region.
More than 100,000 active cardholders currently enjoy these benefits and the APEC business community’s interest in the scheme continues to grow.