A business visa is defined as a visa issued to some one for the purpose of engaging in commerce in a particular country. These visas generally preclude permanent employment, for which a work visa would be required. Recalling that one of the mandates of the ACS is to find ways to facilitate intra-regional trade, Muneira explained there have been concerns since the 1990’s about ways in which this could be done.
Observing that “many things have changes” since the ACS was established in 1994, Muneira said it was critical the Association formulate concrete plans regarding the ability of its member states to issue business visas, because other bodies were seeking ways to carve out their own economic spaces. Muneria referred to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which includes the United States and several Pacific nations, noting that Costa Rica and Panama are soon expected to join this emerging trade block.
He also noted that the Community of Caribbean and Latin American States (CELAC), of which Trinidad and Tobago is a member, is currently contemplating the introduction of a single passport that offers Latin American and Caribbean citizenship. Muneira was confident the Working Group would be able to formulate a concrete set of proposals which would be presented to the ACS Ministerial Council when the Association holds its next summit in Mexico in 2014.
ACS trade director Alberto Duran agreed with Muneira’s views, explaining the findings at the last meeting of the Working Group suggested among other things, the need to unify trade and immigration policies among member states to better facilitate the issuance of business visas.
A statement issued by the ACS on February 5 following a meeting of the Working Group in January 25, indicated: “A general observation among member states is that the borders are open for recreational tourists but business persons and investors are faced with vaguely defined limitations that confuse the type of activity they are allowed to partake in.”
The statement also said while ACS member states “generally welcome foreign business persons and investors; however, there still exist concerns related to border control and security.” Mexico said it dealt with those concerns through the issuance of a biometric visa, with security features to allow for easy detection of fraud. At the January meeting, the TT representative outlined this country’s cooperation with Interpol in an attempt to safeguard its borders.