On November 12, 2011, while meeting in Honolulu with Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders, President Obama signed the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) Act, which will expedite travel in the Asia-Pacific region for qualified American travelers. Under the Act, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is authorized to issue the ABTC to U.S. citizens as part of its Global Entry program. Cardholders will receive expedited scheduling of visa interviews and access to fast-track immigration lanes at airports in APEC's 21 economies.
The Act, which unanimously passed Congress earlier this month, allows U.S. business people to apply for the cards for reciprocal rights in the region. Cardholders will have pre-cleared immigration entry into the 18 fully participating member economies, eliminating the cost and time involved in obtaining visas. Cardholders also will benefit from expedited transit through special fast-track lanes at major airports and seaports in all 21 economies.
An APEC press release cited business leaders’ praise of the development as a “clear signal” that the United States is helping businesses as they seek stronger trade ties in the Asia-Pacific region.