Sri Lanka passport ranked among bottom 10-pct of the world

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s passport has been ranked 97 among 200 countries and territories in a global index of travel freedoms, dropping from 96 at the end of last year, but maintained its position among the bottom 10 percent of travel documents.

The Henley Passport Index, which ranks countries using on-arrival or visa free access to their citizens had placed Japan as the best passport, giving travel freedoms to 191 countries, while Singapore is second with 190.

South Korea shares third place with Germany with 189 countries accessible visa free.

South Korea had become a strongly liberal nation, with economic, political and religious freedoms for their citizens coupled with central bank reforms from the mid 1980s that freed citizens from chronic depreciation and helped drive it to OECD status.

“Asian countries’ dominance of the top spots is a clear argument for the benefits of open-door policies and the introduction of mutually beneficial trade agreements,” Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners, which compiles the index said in a statement.

“Over the past few years, we have seen the world adapt to mobility as a permanent condition of global life.

“The latest rankings show that the countries that embrace this reality are thriving, with their citizens enjoying ever-increasing passport power and the array of benefits that come with it.

“As ongoing research shows, these benefits are extensive.”

Uğur Altundal and Ömer Zarpli, of Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh, in a research with Henley data, had found a strongly positive correlation between travel freedom and other kinds of liberties – from the economic to the political, and even individual or human freedoms.

Citizens of Maldives which had a strong currency and higher incomes and freer trade had free access to 85 countries.

Afghanistan was at the bottom with access to 26 countries.

Sri Lanka was at 97 position in travel freedom was in the bottom 10 percent of countries. Sri Lanka held 11th position from the bottom. Only 17 countries were below Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka has been following increasingly restrictive policies in recent years, with restrictive trade, expropriation which undermined investment, along with a rise in nationalism.

The US and the UK had continued to fall on the index’s rankings, with rising nationalism at home.

“While both countries remain in the top 10, their shared 8th-place position is a significant decline from the number one spot they jointly held in 2015,” the compilers said.

Brexit nationalism had also increased the uncertainty for UK citizen’s access to Europe.

Other Asia-Pacific countries like India (84) and Vietnam (88) were ranked ahead of Sri Lanka.

Ethiopia and South Sudan are ranked a spot above Sri Lanka at 96 scoring 43 whereas Iran, Bangladesh, Eritrea and the Democratic Republic of Congo ranked a spot below with a score of 41 according to the index.

Malaysia, Brunei (currency board), Hong Kong (Currency board), Taiwan and Macau (currency board/currency competition) passports were among the top 30 percent in the world.

Hong Kong passport holders had free access to 169 countries compared to 71 for China. Hong Kong had growth with in-migration for many years.

“Asia accounts for approximately one third of migrants throughout the world,” Nicole Smolinske, Independent Specialis, Consultant on the Asia-Pacific Region said in the report.

“Asia’s working-age population is among the largest in the world and, as such, has high levels of mobility, with these individuals able to migrate in search of better economic futures.”

“It is expected that migration policy in the broader region will continue to evolve and adapt as the workforce seeks gainful employment opportunities, and countries implement policies to facilitate economic collaboration and attract talent, “she said.

The biggest climber of the decade was United Arab Emirates (currency board-like system), overtaking 47 spots and reaching 18 in rank meanwhile Nigeria fell 19 spots to 95, becoming the biggest faller since 2010. (Colombo/Jan09/2020)