U.S. Senate Passes APEC Business Travel Card Program

The U.S. Senate today unanimously passed S. 504, a bill introduced by Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) to make permanent the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Card Program, which grants Americans and citizens from APEC nations access to fast-track processing lanes at Daniel K. Inouye Honolulu International Airport and airports across the U.S. and Asia-Pacific.

When APEC visited Hawaii I received a media pass from Washington D.C.  and got to attend the events with the world leaders.

Over 200 Hawaii residents are active holders of the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC), which saves 43 minutes on average in airport wait times. Without the passage of the bill, U.S. Customs and Border Protection cannot issue cards to U.S. citizens after September 30, 2018.

“The APEC Business Travel Card has helped hundreds of Hawaii residents travel and conduct business with ease across a region critical to our local economy and jobs,” said Senator Hirono. “By permanently extending this successful program, the Senate today has affirmed the importance of travel to our economy and our country’s engagement with the nations of the Asia-Pacific.”

“With 95 percent of the world’s consumers outside of the United States, it’s critical that we continue to make it more efficient for American businesses to reach overseas markets,” said Senator Daines.

S. 504, the APEC Business Travel Cards Act of 2017, is supported by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Asia Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce, U.S. Council for International Business, National Foreign Trade Council, U.S. Travel Association, Global Business Travel Association, American Hotel and Lodging Association, U.S.-China Business Council, U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, American Chamber of Commerce in the People’s Republic of China, and the National Center for APEC.

The bill was also cosponsored by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.).

2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the creation of the business travel card initiative by APEC, a multilateral forum that includes the U.S., Japan, China and 18 other Pacific Rim economies.

At the 2011 APEC summit in Honolulu, President Obama signed the original bill authorizing the U.S. Government to issue ABTCs to U.S. citizens. Senator Hirono was a cosponsor of the bill as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. In November 2016, Senator Hirono urged President Obama to extend the card’s validity from three to five years to be consistent with other APEC nations. On December 13, 2016, CBP began issuing 5-year ABTCs.

S. 504 must now be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in order to be sent to the President for his signature.

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