Travelling for business ideally shouldn’t be that difficult to maneuver. For some countries it’s fairly convenient to travel to certain nations for business, depending on their foreign and trade policies; however, for others it’s a pretty difficult task. As of now APEC business travel card (ABTC) is one such privilege for APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) economies which allows expedited clearance through designated ABTC lanes and other painless travel procedures. However, India is not a part of APEC nations, and so Indian businessmen cannot practice the same while traveling to APEC nations.
The austerity of current visa regime, sometimes hinders the flexibility of businesses. India was recently seen addressing this issue (with all the other reforms that government is planning for businessmen of the country) and proposed a similar solution for hassle-free movement of businessmen across 16 countries bloc under RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) when India and China met in Vietnam to discuss the terms of RCEP. The meeting was aimed at negotiating a mega trade agreement that aims to cover goods, services, investments, economic and technical co-operation, competition, and intellectual property rights.
In continuation, Indian ministers urged member countries to work towards liberalization across all modes of services, including movement of professionals, in line with the RCEP guiding principles, similar to that of ABTC.
India strongly advocated for an RCEP business/travel card, and the importance of facilitating temporary movement of professionals. If this proposal is deliberated and approved, it would result in better visa reforms for Indian businessmen as well as participating economies; however, this could also endanger the mutually beneficial relationships among the countries in terms of movement and creation of job opportunities and practices of expatriates.
Let’s hope the ongoing discussion which started in 2012, and expected to be concluded by the end of this year, bears prolific results and makes travel more hassle-free for businessmen.
Note: RCEP comprises of 10 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and their six FTA partners — India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.