Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
APEC BUSINESS MOBILITY GROUP
PROPOSED BUSINESS MOBILITY GOALS FOR 2009
Submitted by: Australia
Business Mobility Group
21 February 2009
PROPOSED BUSINESS MOBILITY GROUP GOALS FOR 2009
Consistent with the directives and priorities of APEC Leaders’ and Ministers’, Senior Officials, the Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI), the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) recommendations to Leaders, the Osaka Action Agenda II, and the Business Mobility Group agreed Terms of Reference and Collective Action Plan (at Attachment A), the following work goals for 2009 (and beyond) are proposed for agreement and implementation by BMG Members on a best endeavours basis.
ENHANCE TRADE FACILITATION through implementing the agreed BMG Collective Action Plan and BMG Trade Facilitation Action Plan II (TFAP) Actions. Key actions include promoting and expanding membership of the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) Scheme. The BMG will collectively enable the transition of new economy members to fully participate in the ABTC Scheme in accordance with agreed transitional arrangements. In addition, the BMG will continue to examine new options to enhance the Scheme’s operation and in particular, will continue work towards enhancing the security and capability of the Card itself, including work towards a possible biometric ABTC.
In addition to the TFAPII Actions, members will cooperate to share information and best practice on immigration legislation, free trade and other trade agreements relating to the movement of business people, relevant policies and procedures and technologies.
ENHANCE HUMAN SECURITY by implementing agreed BMG and relevant Secure Trade in the APEC Region (STAR) initiatives, including:
unilateral Advance Passenger Information (API) systems (agreed Pathfinder Initiative);
Machine Readable Travel Documents, with biometrics;
Professional Service standards;
Identity Enrolment and Assurance standards;
Immigration Liaison Officer cooperation;
the Regional Movement Alert System (RMAS), through the agreed Multi Lateral Framework (MLF); and
Contributing lost and stolen passport data to Interpol’s International Criminal and Police Organisation (ICPO) database.
In addition, the work towards a biometric ABTC will echo the Ministers’ directive of ‘….enhance human security and protect the region’s business and trade’
IMPLEMENT ANTI-CORRUPTION (PROFESSIONAL SERVICE) AND TRANSPARENCY BMG-specific standards including agreed actions arising from the BMG Review of Temporary Entry 2005; 2007 Review of BMG Professional Service Standards; and the 2007 APEC Anti-Corruption Principles for the Public Sector. Economies will review and maintain comprehensive, up-to-date information on rules and procedures governing temporary entry, processing standards and contact points, in the on-line APEC Business Travel Handbook.
INTERACT WITH THE PRIVATE SECTOR to enhance dialogue and cooperation with business, and in particular with ABAC. The BMG will actively consider any operational and policy issues raised by ABAC in respect of the ABTC scheme. The BMG will engage other APEC and international fora as appropriate and promote Business Mobility trade facilitation initiatives, in particular, the APEC Business Travel Card, to the business community in close cooperation with the ABAC and APEC Secretariat.
APEC Directives and the BMG’s Proposed Work Goals for 2009
1.1 This paper identifies current APEC directives and priorities relevant to the Business Mobility Group, considers the BMG’s existing work program against these directives, and proposes goals for 2009.
2. APEC Directives
2.1 The 2008 APEC Economic Leaders’ Sixteenth Declaration and Trade Ministers’ Twentieth Ministerial Meeting Statement contain a number of directives directly relevant to the BMG, towards achieving the following key APEC goals:
Support Multilateral Trade and Trade Facilitation;
Enhance Human Security in the Region;
Promote Transparency and Fight Corruption; and
Interact with the Business Community.
3. Trade Facilitation
Support Multilateral Trade and Trade Facilitation
3.1 The most recent APEC Leaders’ directives relevant to the Business Mobility Group include implementing the new Trade Facilitation Action Plan II (TFAPII) to facilitate trade and investment towards attaining the Bogor Goals, in particular, the goal of a (further) 5% reduction in business transaction costs by 2010. The TFAPII focuses on measures to enhance customs procedures, standards and conformance, e-commerce and mobility of business people. The ABAC report to Leaders’ noted full support of the implementation of APEC TFAP II and the use of KPIs for measuring savings in time and transaction costs resulting from actions taken under the plan (Attachment B lists the agreed BMG TFAPII actions).
3.2 These actions are consistent with and reflect the agreed objectives of the BMG’s current Collective Action Plan. Attachment C is an extract from the TFAPII document which recognizes two key actions, namely the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) Scheme and the BMG’s capacity building work on e-Passports, as important business mobility initiatives to facilitate trade and security in the region.
3.3 Attachment B includes specific BMG agreements and standards for implementation on a best endeavours basis. Some reflect the essential relationship between securing the safe mobility of business people and facilitating trade and investment activity in the region:
the agreed 30 day service standard for intra company transferees (executives, managers and specialists (the latter as defined by each economy);
agreement to consider streamlining access for spouses of intra company transferees to work rights;
agreed standards for e-commerce arrangements; travel document security including travel documents, professional service (including additional standards agreed in 2007), immigration legal infrastructure, and travel document examination;
introduce machine readable travel documents (MRTDs), if possible with biometrics;
make available comprehensive information and application forms for short-stay and temporary residence business visas, including through the APEC Business Travel Handbook and official immigration/consular affairs websites; and
contribute information on lost and stolen travel documents to the database of the International Criminal and Police Organisation (ICPO).
3.4 The BMG is required to report collective progress on implementing the TFAPII to the CTI at the final SOM of each year (commencing in 2008) and individual economies are required, as usual, to report separately on their progress in implementing TFAP II Actions through the APEC Individual Action Plan (IAP) process.
3.5 It is proposed that BMG members continue to share information on these agreed Actions at BMG SOM meetings and through the AIMP and BMG websites.
3.6 It is proposed that the BMG agrees to the document on identity standards and best practice to assure integrity in enrolment processes relating to travel and identity documents. This new initiative is reflected in the proposed Goals under ENHANCE HUMAN SECURITY.
4. Enhance Human Security in the Region
4.1 In their 2008 Declaration, Leaders stated that it is an enduring priority for APEC to ‘….enhance human security and protect the region’s business and trade against natural, accidental or deliberate disruption’.
4.2 Ministers affirmed that “…human security is essential to the sustainable economic growth and prosperity of APEC economies’ and ‘…continual support for the Secure Trade in the APEC region (STAR) initiative’.
4.3 It is proposed the BMG also continues to advance implementation of the BMG’s Advance Passenger Information (API) Pathfinder Initiative. The agreed Pathfinder Initiative requires economies to implement a unilateral API system as soon as possible. To date, 15 economies have implemented or plan to implement an API system.
4.4 The BMG also has agreements covering a range of border security areas including the adoption of machine readable travel documents with biometrics. In 2004, the BMG agreed to introduce Machine Readable Travel Documents, if possible with biometrics, and, on a best endeavours basis, to accelerate replacement of non-MRTDs by MRTDs as well as implement ICAO travel document security standards.
In 2006, with TILF funding, the BMG conducted a successful seminar and a workshop, to assist economies implement agreed standards for Machine Readable Travel Documents and biometric technologies, in response to the Ministers’ directive for further cooperation on capacity building in this area. In 2007, the BMG secured TILF funding to develop a biometrics reference document, which was successfully launched in August 2007 in Melbourne. The document “A Guide to Biometric Technology in Machine Readable Travel Documents” has already been recognized as a unique and valuable document by ICAO and the ISO, and also by the IOM, which now has permission from APEC to translate the document into other languages to assist other governments adopt e-Passports. Work continued in 2008 with the ‘Frequent Passenger Programs workshop’ in Peru, where economies shared valuable experiences, lessons learned and technologies to assist other economies in their work towards the use of biometrics for facilitated flow of bona fide travellers across borders.
4.6 In 2009, Australia, with assistance from co-sponsors Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines will conduct a TILF-funded two day workshop to develop a governance framework, the foundation for work towards a possible biometric ABTC. Apart from this, Singapore will also conduct a workshop on using biometric for border control. The workshop will showcase how economies can leverage on the various forms of technology available in the market to assist them in the accurate identification of persons and efficient clearance of bona fide travellers, including business persons at the borders. It would also serve as a platform for economies to exchange ideas on migratory control practices to further augment their existing border control instruments, in addition to gaining a deeper understanding of how different technological solutions, for example, the Interpol’s FIND/MIND system can also be deployed as a package such that they complement each other in the development of a holistic approach towards border control.
4.7 In 2009, the BMG will finalise its work on standards to assure identity in economies’ enrolment processes for e-Passports. Developing an APEC set of standards and best practices will increase regional and international confidence in the security of our travel documentation.
5. Promote Transparency and Fight Corruption
5.1 Leaders and Ministers have again highlighted the importance of fulfilling APEC Anti Corruption and Transparency Standards including sub-fora specific Codes of Conduct, which align with the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), and encourage economies to ratify and implement where applicable.
5.2 The BMG has agreed standards for both Professional Service to ensure the integrity of Immigration officials and processes, and for Transparency; the latter as directed by Leaders in 2003. The BMG had TILF funding, until end March 2006, to assist economies implement the Professional Service standards. Most economies have reported to the BMG they have either implemented all the agreed standards or are implementing progressively. A BMG working group was established in late 2006 to review the standards and it drafted a number of recommended amendments and additional standards in 2007, which were agreed intercessionally by members following SOMII in 2007.
5.3 ABAC continues to call for additional progress in attaining APEC transparency objectives. The BMG conducted a ‘Review of Temporary Entry Conditions’ in 2005 with the assistance of TILF funding and the BMG agreed on a number of recommendations to enhance the transparency of economy temporary entry arrangements, including visa and stay requirements and related public information. It is proposed that in 2009, the BMG continues to build on the significant work undertaken in 2006, 2007 and 2008 to ensure the information available on their economy and BMG websites is current, comprehensive and transparent, including information on economy ABTC arrangements.
Interaction with the Business Community
6.1 Leaders and Ministers also encouraged APEC fora to enhance interaction with the private business sector, in particular to enhance consultation and cooperation with the ABAC and in partnership with the private sector wherever possible, to assist in identifying cost reductions relating to Actions selected from the APEC Trade Facilitation Menu of Actions and Measures and in seeking guidance on APEC business community’s needs and priorities. The BMG has always sought to work closely and in consultation with ABAC and the private sector, especially in respect of the APEC Business Travel Card. The BMG will continue to invite the ABAC to its SOM meetings, to provide comment, feedback and input to the BMG agenda. The Convenor will continue to advise ABAC regularly of the outcomes of BMG meetings. Economies are encouraged to maintain their regular contact with their economy ABAC members and business communities in respect of the BMG’s activities, and to actively promote the APEC Business Travel Card within their business community in 2009 and beyond.
BMG COLLECTIVE ACTION PLAN – CHAPTER 13
“13. MOBILITY OF BUSINESS PEOPLE
APEC economies will:
enhance the mobility of business people who are engaged in the conduct of trade and investment activities in the Asia-Pacific region; and
b. enhance the use of information and communications technology (ICT) to facilitate the movement of people across borders, taking into account the Leaders’ Statement on Counter Terrorism.
Each APEC economy will work toward achieving the above objectives:
a. abiding by directions and statements from APEC Leaders and Ministers;
b. recognising APEC Principles on Trade Facilitation; and
c. consistent with the Informal Experts Group on Business Mobility's (IEGBM) capacity building standards and annually agreed goals.
APEC economies will:
Exchange information on regulatory regimes in regard to the mobility of business people in the region, including through regularly updating the information in the online APEC Business Travel Handbook.
Short-Term Business Entry
Streamline short-term entry requirements for business people. APEC economies will strive on a best endeavours basis and according to their own immigration procedures to implement one or more of the following options:
i) visa free or visa waiver arrangements;
ii) participating in the APEC Business Travel Card scheme;
at least 3 year multiple entry visas.
Business Temporary Residency
Implement streamlined temporary residence processing arrangements for the intra-company transfer of senior managers and executives, and specialists as defined by individual economies.
Capacity Building (Technical Cooperation and Training)
Develop and implement the mutually agreed standards and benchmarks essential to capacity building and engage in the capacity building initiatives necessary to provide streamlined visa application and immigration entry, stay and departure processing arrangements.
Dialogue with Business
Continue to maintain a dialogue with the APEC Business Mobility Group and the APEC business community (including with APEC fora) on mobility issues important to the APEC region and the APEC business community.”
BUSINESS MOBILITY GROUP TRADE FACILITATION ACTION PLAN (TFAPII)
Enhance the mobility of business people who are engaged in the conduct of trade and investment activities in the Asia-Pacific region.
Implement standards for a) travel documentation examination; b) professional service; c) travel document security (and issuance systems); d) immigration legislation.
Streamline arrangements for intra-company transferees in accordance with the agreed APEC 30 day processing standard.
Implement and promote the APEC Business Travel Card and/or visa free or visa waver arrangements or at least 3 year multiple entry visas for short term business visitors such as those engaged in the negotiation of the sale of services or goods, establishing an investment or participating in business-related conferences, seminars or workshops.
Enhance the use of information and communications technology (ICT) to facilitate the movement of people across borders, taking into account the Leaders’ Statement on Counter Terrorism.
Introduce e-lodgement arrangements for temporary residency applications.
Introduce an advanced passenger information system which pre-clears passengers to ensure faster clearance on arrival (BMG Pathfinder Initiative).
Introduce machine readable travel documents (MRTDs), if possible with biometrics, by end 2008, on a best endeavours basis.
Make available comprehensive information and application forms for short-stay and temporary residence business visas, including through the APEC Business Travel Handbook and official immigration/consular affairs websites, in accordance with BMG agreements.
Contribute information on lost and stolen travel documents, on a best endeavours basis, to the database of the International Criminal and Police Organisation (ICPO).
Business Mobility Collective Activities for TFAP II
“Expanding economy membership of the APEC Business Travel
Card Scheme will benefit more frequent business travellers
engaged in trade and investment activities. The APEC Business
Travel Card currently provides cardholders of 17 member
economies with priority immigration clearance on arrival and
departure in major international airports and multiple visitor
entry to participating economies over a three year period.
Expansion of the scheme, with a view to attaining full
APEC membership, will be an important BMG contribution
to TFAP II.
As an additional contribution to APEC's work to facilitate
the safe and secure movement of business people, the BMG
has also agreed on a significant capacity building programme
to assist all economies in introducing biometric Machine
Readable Travel Documents (MRTD) and related border
processing systems by the end of 2008. This work complements
APEC initiatives on Advance Passenger Information (API) and
the multilateral Regional Movement Alert System (RMAS),
which assist the identification of bona fide travellers and
detect the use of lost and stolen passports that can be used
by terrorists and other criminals.”