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Congress approves APEC business travel cards act


Congress has passed the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Cards Act of 2011, which makes travel to APEC countries easier for American business and government travelers, and sent it to President Barack Obama.

The bill would enable travelers who have been screened, are not security risks, and have an APEC card to have their visa requests reviewed faster, use the same customs lanes as air crews at airports, and take multiple trips to the 21 APEC countries for three years without getting a new visa each time.

The bill was introduced Aug. 2 in the Senate by Sens. Daniel K. Akaka, Daniel K. Inouye, and Maria Cantwell. It was cosponsored in the House by Representative Mazie Hirono.

“I applaud my colleagues in Congress for their swift action in approving this measure on the eve of the historic APEC summit meetings in Honolulu,” Akaka said. “By facilitating partnerships among APEC economies, this program will help Hawaii and the rest of the United States to expand into growing Asian markets while creating jobs at home.”

“Next week in Honolulu we will demonstrate that the U.S. is committed to job creation and working with our Asian counterparts to maximize opportunities for all nations. This job creating legislation acknowledges the need to further engage emerging markets in Asia by providing for expedited travel between APEC nations,” Inouye said. “I am certain policies of this nature will help guide discussions between participating APEC countries about creating new partnerships and diversifying long standing agreements in order to grow our economies.”

“In order to preserve America’s economic strength, we must create jobs and build opportunities in Hawaii and across the country,” Hirono said. “Our APEC partners are key collaborators in this needed growth. Promoting ease of travel among APEC partners will lead to greater prosperity at home and abroad.”

“As Honolulu prepares to host some of the world’s top business leaders and government officials next week, I am pleased Congress approved this measure that will help expedite international travel between APEC nations,” said Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa. “As job creation remains a top priority, this legislation will help Hawaii build and strengthen important business partnerships with participating regional economies.”

The APEC Business Travel Card program was started in 1997 and has already been adopted by 18 of the 21 APEC member countries. The legislation is supported by the National Center for APEC, National Foreign Trade Council, US-ASEAN Business Council, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, US-China Business Council, and U.S. Council for International Business.

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