Business travel card pro­gram to be ex­panded

China Daily (Canada) - - ADVERTISEMENT - By ZHONG­NAN

China and other APEC mem­ber economies are plan­ning to ex­tend the pe­riod of va­lid­ity of the APEC Business Travel Card from three to five years and widen avail­abil­ity of the card to other pro­fes­sions.

Zhang Shao­gang, di­rec­tor­gen­eral of the depart­ment of in­ter­na­tional trade and eco­nomic af­fairs at the Min­istry of Com­merce, said theChi­nese gov­ern­ment is work­ing closely with the for­eign af­fairs and bor­der con­trol au­thor­i­ties of other APEC mem­bers to ex­pand the card’s abil­ity to in­crease con­nec­tiv­ity within the re­gion.

“The gov­ern­ments of APEC economies are con­sid­er­ing al­low­ing schol­ars, stu­dents and me­dia pro­fes­sion­als to ap­ply for the ABTC in a bid to fur­ther im­prove business, tech­nol­ogy and me­dia ex­changes among multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions, press agen­cies, in­flu­en­tial aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions and univer­si­ties within the re­gion,” said Zhang.

A to­tal of 150,000 ABTCs have been is­sued to en­trepreneurs and company em­ploy­ees since the pro­gram was launched in 1997, in­clud­ing 30,000 from China.

Very much in line with the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s goals of free and open re­gional trade and in­vest­ment, the card pro­gram al­lows business trav­el­ers pre­cleared, fa­cil­i­tated short-term en­try to par­tic­i­pat­ing mem­ber economies, re­mov­ing the need for in­di­vid­u­als to ap­ply for visas or en­try per­mits. Mul­ti­ple en­tries are al­lowed with the card’s three-year valid pe­riod.

Zhang said card hold­ers ben­e­fit from faster im­mi­gra­tion pro­cess­ing on ar­rival at ma­jor air­ports in par­tic­i­pat­ing economies, via spe­cial APEC, fast-track en­try and exit lanes.

There are 19 APEC mem­ber economies fully par­tic­i­pat­ing in the pro­gram, in­clud­ing Aus­tralia, Brunei Darus­salam, Chile, China, In­done­sia, Ja­pan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mex­ico and NewZealand.

Canada and the United States are also tran­si­tional mem­bers. The for­mer is work­ing to­ward is­su­ing cards to its own cit­i­zens while in the lat­ter, leg­is­la­tion has been passed au­tho­riz­ing the is­suance of ABTCs to el­i­gi­ble per­sons, with the US Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion al­ready in the process of start­ing card is­suance.

Zhao Zhongxiu, a trade pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of In­ter­na­tional Business and Eco­nomics in Beijing, said the ABTC pro­gram has not only re­duced trans­ac­tion costs for card­hold­ers, but also for business peo­ple and gov­ern­ments.

“The card helps en­hance bor­der in­tegrity and se­cu­rity in par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­try’s bor­der agen­cies as it in­creases the num­ber of low-risk trav­el­ers com­ing through. Each ap­pli­cant is checked against ‘watch lists’ of other par­tic­i­pat­ing economies,” said Zhao.

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