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Phl business travelers welcome virtual APEC Business Travel Card

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The virtual APEC Business Travel Card provides seamless, secured, safe and hassle-free travels for Filipino business travelers to APEC member countries (Photo from apec.org)

By Alithea De Jesus

With the gradual opening of the global economy, business travel resumes in many countries and to ensure that the pandemic is contained, the officials from APEC member economies have finally completed the modernization and improvement of the security and efficiency of business travel by launching the Virtual APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC).

With this virtual APEC Business Travel Card, business travelers from the Philippines engaged in selling goods or services and investments between Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies will now experience streamlined entry to participating economies.

This, as the APEC business travel card (ABTC) transitions from physical to virtual cards using the new mobile application that will provide real-time updates/approvals by economies using their application status.

“As the virtual card will replace the current physical cards, they are considered as good as the physical card when presented to the immigration authorities at points of entry in APEC member countries,” Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) acting Asst. Secretary Senen Mangalile informed Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (PHILEXPORT) President Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. in a letter.

The ABTC provides businesspeople with a streamlined entry to participating economies through a simple pre-clearance system that allows them to obtain multiple short-term entries to participating APEC economies through a single application.

The virtual ABTC has been created for the convenience of approved cardholders and will bring the ABTC scheme into the modern and digitized era of global travel. It is free to download and accessible for those applicants who have been approved for an ABTC.

“It provides cardholders from fully participating member economies with a more secure, efficient, convenient, and user-friendly service.

The virtual ABTC automatically updates as a cardholder opens or refreshes their smart device ‘app’, ensuring all relevant information is up-to-date and readily available for the cardholder’s travel,” according to the APEC Business Mobility Group.

Participating economies in the ABTC scheme currently includes Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, People’s Republic of China, the Philippines, Peru, Russia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Each economy determines its own timeline to transition to the virtual ABTC for its cardholders.

In line with this, Mangalile requested the exporters’ group to provide the department with a list of ABTC cardholders among its members with their respective personal email addresses.

“The information is needed so that they could be provided with access or log-in credentials to the mobile application,” he said.

Mangalile also asked the PHILEXPORT to inform its members who are ABTC holders about the new process, adding that the department will provide a user manual and frequently asked questions once APEC has finalized them.

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