New Agreement Expedites Tourism Between US & Taiwan

April 6, 2016, 10:56 AM HST · Updated April 6, 10:56 AM
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Mayor Alan Arakawa and Pingtung Sister County Chairmen Alexander C.H. Chang and Elizabeth H.T. Hsu hold a Taiwan flag on the front lawn of the County Building to mark the occasion of the Pingtung delegation’s visit. Photo courtesy County of Maui.

Mayor Alan Arakawa and Pingtung Sister County Chairmen Alexander C.H. Chang and Elizabeth H.T. Hsu hold a Taiwan flag on the front lawn of the County Building to mark the Pingtung delegation’s visit in 2014. Photo courtesy County of Maui.

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono hailed an agreement reached this week between the American Institute in Taiwan and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office on behalf of the US Department of Homeland Security and Taiwan to facilitate its membership in US Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry Program.

The agreement will allow expedited customs clearance for Taiwanese citizens visiting the US and vice versa.

In the absence of formal diplomatic relations, AIT and TECRO represent the US and Taiwan respectively.

“Including Taiwan in the Global Entry Program will benefit America’s economy and national security,” said Sen. Hirono. “The global entry vetting process will allow the United States to better direct security resources to lesser known travelers, while giving participants the added convenience of expedited customs and immigration screening. Last year, Taiwanese visitors spent more than $31 million in Hawai‘i, and we can only expect Taiwanese visitor arrivals and spending to grow with the increased ease provided by the Global Entry Program.”

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Last October, Sen. Hirono led a bipartisan coalition of 21 senators to urge Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to approve Taiwan’s inclusion in the Global Entry program. The Chamber of Commerce Hawai‘i and Hawai‘i Tourism Authority support Sen. Hirono’s effort.

“We are pleased with Sen. Hirono’s leadership in writing a letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security in support of Taiwan’s inclusion in the Global Entry Program,” said Sherry Menor-McNamara, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Hawai‘i. “The Chamber of Commerce Hawai‘i supports initiatives that encourage economic growth in our state, particularly with international markets that are projected to continue to grow in the immediate and long-term, with direct and indirect contributions to our GDP and employment.”

“This is welcome news for Hawai‘i’s tourism industry,” said George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority. “We appreciate Sen. Hirono’s diligence to incorporate Taiwan into the Global Entry Program and improve the process for its travelers to visit the Hawaiian Islands. Taiwan and Hawai‘i already enjoy strong cultural connections, and this program helps strengthen those ties even more by making it easier for Taiwan’s citizens to come experience and interact with the people of Hawai‘i.”

Global Entry Program participants must be pre-approved by US Customs and Border Protection, and undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview before enrollment. Participants may still be selected for further examination when entering the US.

The Global Entry Program allows participants to complete expedited customs and immigration procedures using self-service kiosks at over 50 airports in the US, Canada and select overseas locations, including Honolulu International Airport.

Taiwan is now on course to joining Canada, Mexico, Panama, Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom and South Korea as eligible for CBP’s Global Entry and other trusted traveler programs.

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