|Sponsor||Rep. Larsen, Rick|
|Date||October 25, 2011 (112th Congress, 1st Session)|
|Staff Contact||Jon Hiler|
On Tuesday, October 25, 2011, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 2042, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Travel Cards Act of 2011, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority for passage. H.R. 2527 was introduced by Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA) on May 26, 2011, and was referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security.
H.R. 2042 would direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish the APEC Business Travel Program to issue Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Travel Cards (ABTCs) to eligible U.S. citizen business leaders and senior U.S. government officials actively engaged in Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) business.
The bill would also require the Secretary to integrate application procedures for and issuance of ABTCs with other international registered traveler programs of DHS, such as Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI; and (2) work in conjunction with private sector entities to ensure that applicants satisfy ABTC requirements.
APEC member economies account for 41 percent of the world's population, 54 percent of world Gross Domestic Product and approximately 44 percent of global trade, according to the United States Trade Representative (USTR). Last year, U.S. exports to APEC countries accounted for almost 60 percent of U.S. exports. Nine of the top 15 U.S. export markets for goods are APEC member economies. U.S. goods and services traded with APEC economies totaled $1.9 trillion in 2009.
The ABTC program, which began in 1997, is recognized by all 21 APEC members. Eighteen of the 21 APEC economies are full members of the ABTC program, while the U.S., Canada, and Russia participate as "transitional members." Travel cards are valid for three years and are issued by individual economies for use by their own citizens. As a transitional member of the program, the U.S. currently recognizes foreign-issued ABTCs but does not issue them to U.S. passport holders. The APEC Business Travel Card Act would allow U.S. passport holders to participate in the program and enjoy the same expedited travel benefits that ABTC travelers in the 18 other participating countries currently enjoy.
Foreign-issued ABTC travelers must still obtain U.S. visas as required by United States law; however, they have access to expedited visa interview scheduling at U.S. embassies and consulates, and expedited immigration processing through airline crew and diplomat immigration lanes upon arrival in the United States. Under current law, U.S. passport holders are not yet eligible to apply for the ABTC program and therefore they do not enjoy these same benefits in other Asia-Pacific countries.
There is no CBO cost estimate available at this time.