Sapporo, Japan, 29 May 2010 - The APEC Business Mobility Group announced today that the Russian Federation has been accepted into the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) scheme as a transitional member. This means that all of APEC's 21 members now participate in the scheme.
"This is a historic occasion for APEC and the ABTC, as Russia's membership completes the circle. The ABTC is one of APEC's great success stories: it contributes to APEC's goal of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific, and shows how practical cooperation can be achieved," said Mr Stephen Allen, Chair of the APEC Business Mobility Group which oversees the scheme.
At the official membership ceremony, Mr Vladimir Kristov from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation described the significance of the occasion: "This is a marvellous event for Russia and for the region. We can all now use the ABTC as a platform for great business opportunities, and increase the linkages between our economies".
The ABTC facilitates business travel in the Asia-Pacific by allowing cardholders:
Pre-cleared immigration entry into the 18 fully participating member economies*, eliminating the cost and time involved in obtaining visas.
Expedited transit through special fast-track lanes at major airports and seaports in all 21 economies.
Over 80,000 active cardholders now enjoy these benefits, and the APEC business community's interest in the scheme continues to grow. Figures to-date in 2010 show applications are up 27 percent on the same period last year.
As of April 2010, Russia has been providing fast-track ABTC lanes at its international airports and seaports; and it will announce procedures for its citizens to apply for the card in due course. As it is a transitional member, all ABTC cardholders entering Russia will still have to obtain a visa (unless otherwise exempt under Russian legislation or international arrangements). However, visa applications from ABTC cardholders will be given priority.
Under existing bilateral agreements, Russia is able to provide full ABTC benefits to applicants holding ordinary passports from Hong Kong-China and Thailand for stays of up to 14 days and 90 days respectively. Applicants from 16 other economies - Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Chinese Taipei and Viet Nam - can currently receive multiple entry visas at Russian Embassies or Consulates.
Pre-clearance of Russian citizens by other economies will be possible once Russia is able to offer reciprocal arrangements to those economies.
*The 18 fully participating members are: Australia; Brunei Darussalam; China; Chile; Hong Kong, China; Korea; Indonesia; Japan; Peru; Philippines; Malaysia; Mexico; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; Thailand; and Viet Nam. The 3 transitional members are: Canada, Russia, United States.
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