Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) released the following statement hailing the enactment of her bill that will help facilitate business travel and trade with the Asia-Pacific region by removing burdens on international travelers. President Barack Obama signed Cantwell's Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) Business Travel Card Act (S. 1487) into law over the weekend. Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Daniel Inouye (D-HI) cosponsored the legislation in the Senate.
In 2010, Washington state exported over $53 billion worth of goods, making Washington state fourth in the nation for exports and third in the nation for exports per capita. Washington state exports going to the Asia-Pacific region were valued at $37 billion, or 69 percent of the total value of all Washington state products exported last year, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Together, the Ports of Tacoma and Seattle comprise the second largest load center in the nation. Last year, $704 million in state revenue was generated from port activities.
"Now, Washington state business leaders have another tool for powering our state's robust export economy," Cantwell said. "Washington state serves as a gateway to APEC member economies, which account for nearly half of all global trade. This law enables our business community to enjoy the same expedited travel that other APEC countries enjoy. With faster and more efficient travel, Washington state businesses can devote more resources to building the business relationships that grow our export economy."
"As a growing manufacturing business, SeaCast depends on international travel to conduct business and grow exports," Ty Ueland, director of SeaCast, Inc., a manufacturer which has facilities in Marysville and Seattle said. "The APEC Business Travel Card facilitates our efforts to reach key markets as we look to expand our business in the Asia Pacific."
"This legislation is a win-win and will facilitate expedited access to the APEC region for U.S. business travelers," said Tim Neale, a spokesman for Boeing.
Cantwell's bill was unanimously passed out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on October 19. Cantwell secured its passage in the Senate by unanimous consent on November 3. It then passed the House on November 3 and President Obama signed the bill into law on November 12 in Hawaii while attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit.