Dodwell in 2013 SOM1 Jakarta - Post 3

January 28, 2013

Monday in Jakarta was a day of workshops: Intellectual Property protection; Anti-Corruption; Customs; and my own pick – a Business Mobility Group workshop on improving the APEC Business Travel Card. This is a discussion Kamikawa-san from Japan has tracked vigilantly over the past three or four years, but in his absence, I agreed to stand in. After all, there is almost no issue our business colleagues care more about than the Travel Card. This workshop was packed with sleeves-rolled-up officials from immigration and border security agencies. Their security role could not be more clear. But it was good to see their wholehearted efforts to make life easier for the business traveller.

For us, the most significant initiative currently under way is a pilot programme to tackle one of ABAC’s core concerns: that our 3-year ABAC Travel Card (already too short) becomes invalid and has to be renewed whenever we change our passport. In short, using software demonstrated at the workshop, immigration officials can now update a cardholder’s passport details using a simple drop-box. So if you have to get a new passport, change the name on the passport, or even change your sex I suppose, then this is now straightforward. All the Australian champions of the software now need is APEC officials to pilot the scheme. They were also discussing arrangements to make it easier to replace a lost or stolen card. All very important, detailed stuff.

Asked to comment on behalf of ABAC, I felt it was important to encourage these officials working so earnestly with terrifically complex and technical challenges by emphasizing how sincerely we beneficiaries of the APEC Travel Card appreciated their efforts. Of course, we want them to do more – we want speedier processing of original applications for a card, and we want automatic (or fast) renewal of cards when they expire – but it was clear this group was responsive to our needs, and working pragmatically at solutions.

A couple of questions that I decided to raise: since this is a BUSINESS travel card, why was there not a more consistent effort to harmonise the criteria that Governments use for identifying someone eligible for a card; and in light of the new Travel Facilitation Initiative, which is being championed by APEC and is intended to make international (air) travel easier for everyone (not just business travelers), would it not soon be important for these officials to apply these improvements to ALL travelers - tourists and business executives alike?


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