New Zealand officials are at best lukewarm over an Australian proposal for a smart card for Asia-Pacific travel.
Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group members have been studying the proposal in preparation for the next group meeting to be held in the Philippines in November.
Belinda Brown, senior policy officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, says the proposal is being evaluated.
“There’s no guarantee it will get off the ground yet, although the Australians claim they’ve got a couple of countries interested. We’ve had some initial views through, but we’re just wanting to see how it goes,” Brown says.
The proposal is to establish a smart card system for frequent business travellers to avoid the need to issue visas, but Brown sees that as being of negligible benefit to New Zealand.
“For New Zealand, most countries already have visa-free status. The Australians have one of the toughest policies in the region and there are a few people interested in what they have to offer,” she says.
“I think it has a life of its own now. The Australians are keen to push it and have put some money into it already.
“They’ve done a mock-up, but there are a lot of unanswered questions about how it would work and the type of databases and so forth.”
Brown says it could be another six months before anyone makes a decision on the proposal, though some sort of announcement could be made as a result of the November meeting.