Dodwell's blog on SOM2 Qingdao - Post 4

May 23, 2014

APEC Business Travel Card
I am currently in the process of applying for my third APEC Travel Card. The process is as painful as ever. More than a month after putting in my application, still not a single APEC economy has approved me. When I last applied three years ago, the process took three months, and even then I won approval from only 15 economies. I wonder how or whether processing has improved between 2011 and 2014. What was that in the last Business Mobility Group about member economies striving to clear applications within a week? Perhaps I was dreaming.
One thing I definitely did not dream in Qingdao – not least because the news lifted the torpor from the Senior Official and triggered a wave of applause – is that the United States will, at last, begin issuing APEC Business Travel Cards. D-day is June 12. From that date, those long-suffering US business executives who could only look on in envy at business colleagues slipping into the APEC queue in Asia’s congested immigration halls, will at last be able to join the fray. With Russia having begun to issue cards from May last year, that will leave only Canadian business executives without access to an ABTC. And since Canada sat outside the ABTC scheme only because of US failure to participate, we must be confident that Canadians too will soon by able to get cards.
Quite how many American business executives will get cards – and how quickly – were questions that US officials carefully ducked in Qingdao. At present, there are only about 500,000 in issue in total. Surely once the US joins, this number will leap sharply. But then, if my own painfully slow experience in getting my new ABTC is any guide, we are unlikely to see more than a handful of ABTC-wielding US business executives this side of 2015. Some good things simply have to be waited for.

*Read Dodwell's other blogposts on SOM2 Qingdao

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