China-US business travel fast-track program comes into force
Published: Jan 06, 2022 11:03 AM
China US Photo:GT

China US Photo:GT

The American Chamber of Commerce in China said that a US-China travel fast-track program, which allows for US businesspeople and their families to travel more easily to China amid the COVID-19 pandemic, officially became effective on Thursday, following a consensus reached by leaders of the two countries during a summit last year.

The program aims to provide a more efficient, predictable, and reliable channel for essential US company executives, technical personnel and their dependents to enter China, AmCham China said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Thursday.

According to the chamber, the program will enable qualified member companies to apply for a PU, or permission, letter from their local municipality and receive a reduced processing time and an increased likelihood of approval. Employees can then apply for a visa from the appropriate overseas Chinese embassy or consulate.

The announcement represents rapid progress from December 8, when the chamber said the program had been approved by relevant Chinese authorities, and it was working with various local Foreign Affairs Offices (FAOs) in locations where its members are based to confirm and finalize invitation letter and visa details.

A separate FAQ document also listed specific eligibility requirements for applying for the fast-track program and costs for participating in the program. The administrative fee for each PU letter application is 7,000 yuan ($1,099).

In terms of quarantine rules, travelers are required to adhere to China's entry and health requirements. The requirements could change as conditions warrant. 

Quarantine hotels are designated by local authorities and travelers under the program will not receive any special treatment with regard to quarantine, read the document.

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

Total bilateral trade reached $682.32 billion from January to November in 2021, a year-on-year increase of 30.2 percent, Chinese customs data showed. China also maintained its position as the second-largest trading partner of the US after the EU.

In terms of direct investment, according to statistics released by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), in the first half of 2021, the net outflow of US direct investment in China stood at $390 million, a year-on-year increase of 69.5 percent. The net outflow of Chinese direct investment in the US was $3.558 billion, down by 38.7 percent due to the US' restrictions and crackdowns on Chinese firms.

During the 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 logistics firm FedEx Corp told the Global Times in a statement in December that it believes the 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."

Global Times