ASEAN to Launch Business Traveler Card By 2015

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May. 3 – The leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed to launch an ASEAN business traveler card by 2015. The traveler card will allow frequent business travelers from ASEAN countries to stay for months at a time in other ASEAN countries without the need to obtain a visa.

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said that the proposal, which was first suggested by ASEAN chair Brunei Darussalam during last month’s summit meeting, would help to facilitate travel among investors in the region and accelerate ASEAN connectivity. Currently, most business travelers may only obtain a two to four-week temporary visa when travelling to other countries in the bloc.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said that the program may later be extended to countries outside of ASEAN, suggesting that businesspeople from the so-called “plus three” (China, Japan and South Korea) would also be made eligible for the program.

Few details on the program were given at the meeting, and no definition of “business traveler” was supplied.

Last month’s ASEAN summit also saw progress with certain countries liberalizing their visa regulations. Specifically, Cambodia and Thailand have decided to issue a common visa for visitors from 35 nations and regions to their respective countries. Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos are also set to expand their visa programs soon, with the countries planning to eventually allow travel access to visitors from all 10 ASEAN countries by way of a common visa.

The free movement of business and leisure travelers within ASEAN is one of the pillars of the ASEAN Economic Community, which is also set to be launched in 2015.