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US-China travel fast-track program to start in early 2022

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The main US business group in China said on Wednesday that a US-China travel fast-track program has been approved by relevant Chinese authorities and it was working to implement the program early next year, a move that is in line with consensus reached during a leaders’ summit last month.

An Air China carrier takes off from the terminal 2 at the Beijing Capital International Airport in January. Photo: cnsphoto

“We are currently working with various local Foreign Affairs Offices (FAOs) in locations where our members are based to confirm and finalize invitation letter and visa details,” the American Chamber of Commerce in China (AmCham China) said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Wednesday, adding that the goal is to make it operational early in 2022.

During the China-US leaders’ summit in November, China agreed to upgrade a fast-track arrangement to make it more convenient for the US business community to travel to China, prompting a positive response from American business circles.

US delivery firm FedEx Corp told the Global Times on Wednesday that “we welcome the US-China travel fast-track program. We believe that this plan will help restore the normal flow and exchanges of business personnel between China and the US during the epidemic, and create favorable conditions for further promoting economic and trade exchanges between the two countries.”

The purpose of the fast-track arrangement is to provide a more efficient, predictable and reliable channel for essential US company executives, technical personnel and their dependent family members to come to China. 

The program also ensures that those living in China who left the country for family or business reasons are eligible to return to China.

“Business travel restrictions have been a top priority for many of our members and AmCham China has therefore worked hard on this issue over the past two years to ease the challenges of international travel to and from China,” the chamber said.

AmCham China said that it is working together with AmCham Shanghai and the US-China Business Council (USCBC) on the program.

The statement also listed specific eligibility requirements for applying for the fast-track program, including that travelers must be an employee of both a US-registered company with a business license in China and a member of AmCham China, AmCham Shanghai or the USCBC. 

Establishing a fast-track program can alleviate practical difficulties encountered by the two countries in investment and trade cooperation, and facilitate exchanges between Chinese and US businesspeople, and help boost the economic recovery of the two countries, Xu Chen, chairman of the China General Chamber of Commerce-USA, who’s also president and CEO of Bank of China USA, told the Global Times in an earlier interview.

Chinese Ambassador to the US Qin Gang told a dinner hosted by the USCBC in early December that China will cut to no more than 10 days the time required for approval of travel by US business executives, and would work to make COVID-19 testing more convenient and allow executives to work during quarantine, according to a Reuters report.

As bilateral trade between China and the US remains on an upward trend despite the pandemic, a fast-track program is necessary for the exploration of business and cooperation arrangements, experts said.

The US remained China’s third-largest trade partner in November, with total bilateral trade reaching $72 billion, data released by China’s General Administration of Customs showed on Tuesday.

Source: Global Times