WASHINGTON— U.S. Customs and Border Protection today announced that it will publish an Interim Final Rule in the Federal Register to establish the U.S. Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Card Program (ABTC). The U.S. APEC Business Travel Card Program is a voluntary program to facilitate travel for U.S. citizens engaged in verified business in the APEC region and U.S. government officials engaged in APEC business. In order to participate, applicants must also be members of a CBP trusted traveler program such as Global Entry, SENTRI or NEXUS, meaning they will go through or have already undergone a thorough vetting process including a review of all relevant national security and criminal databases prior to enrollment. The U.S. APEC Business Travel Card will enable access to fast-track immigration lanes at participating foreign APEC member airports. The Interim Final Rule will be open for public comment for 30 days.
“Expedited entry benefits that come with the U.S. APEC Business Travel Card will allow U.S. businesses to remain competitive with other APEC member companies conducting business in the region,” said Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske.
The ABTC was created through the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Travel Cards Act of 2011 and the APEC Business Travel Card Operating Framework. This rule sets forth the eligibility requirements, the application procedures and fee, and the parameters of the program. The ABTC will enable access to fast-track immigration lanes at participating members’ airports, which is expected to save card holders an average of 43 minutes. Fully participating APEC members may provide “pre-clearance benefits” to card holders of other fully participating members; Pre-cleared card holders would not need to apply for visas or entry permits each time they travel to other participating APEC members.
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation is an economic forum whose primary goal is to support sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. APEC is comprised of 21 members, including the United States. APEC’s business facilitation goal is to reduce the costs of business transactions and to help importers and exporters in the Asia-Pacific region meet to conduct business more efficiently. Facilitating travel for qualified business people within the APEC region contributes to the business facilitation goal, and to free, open trade and investment, and to the U.S. economy.