David's Blog on SOM3 Beijing - Post 3

August 15, 2014

APEC Business Travel Card
One of the first meetings out of the blocks in Beijing was the Business Mobility Group – home of all things to do with the APEC Business Travel Card. Mika Takahashi from ABAC Japan gave an update on our own ABAC positioning on the Card, but our key points are really not very different from those already made: we need cards to be processed more quickly; we need the cards to stay “alive” if and when our passports change; and we want the Cards to live for five years rather than the present three. In APEC terms, in-principle agreement to this extension is a big deal for business.
Around the BMG table in-principle support for ABAC’s various objectives seems universal, but clear outcomes continue to take time. Popularity of the card seems clear from a 20% increase in users over the past year. A total of 164,000 cards are now in active use. And this number is set to surge, since the US and Canada only last month began transitional participation. Despite no advertising, and some quite aggressive filters for eligibility, the US in its first month of participation has 834 cards in circulation, with a further 1,385 applications submitted and expected to be approved. Canada launched even more quietly on July 16, and has received just 85 applications so far. But within a year or two, these two outliers to the Business Travel Card arrangement will surely have tens of thousands of users.
Fascinatingly, some member economies are increasingly concerned about fake cards. The good news here is that there are people out there who regard the Card as so valuable that it is worth faking! And this, in many economies, just to get you into a short queue at immigration counters! As more and more ASEAN economies use the card in lieu of a visa, surely its value will continue to rise. Betting odds on 200,000 cards in use by this time next year.

Mika Takahashi presenting on the APEC Business Travel Card at the Business Mobility Group

Meeting on Infrastructure PPPs...

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