Singapore passport ranks second globally, first in Asia

(Business Times) -- Holders of Singapore's red passport have more reason to cheer as latest rankings show the Republic has climbed two spots from 2017 to bag second place globally in the 2018 Henley Passport Index.

In the ranking - which tabulates the number of countries a passport enjoys visa-free access to - Singapore passport holders enjoy visa-free access to 176 countries, up from 173 last year, when it tied with seven other countries such as Austria, Norway and the United Kingdom.

Singapore's passport also bagged top spot in South-east Asia, above second-ranked Malaysia, which enjoys visa-free access to 166 countries, and third-ranked Brunei, at 153 countries.

Germany's passport has taken top spot globally for the fifth consecutive year, allowing its holders visa-free access to 177 countries.

Other countries in South-east Asia also climbed in the rankings, with Indonesia ascending by seven positions over the past year - the biggest jump in the region - and Thailand and the Philippines each rising by three positions.

Going by the 2018 rankings, 143 out of the 199 countries listed on the index moved up the rankings over the past year and 41 countries kept their spots.

Dominic Volek, managing partner of Henley & Partners Singapore and head for South-east Asia, said: "We live in a challenging economy today. Looking at factors such as the US travel ban, isolationist and protectionist practices, it is evident that seamless global mobility will continue to face impediments that need to be bridged.

"Our findings reflect that with the rise in opportunities in today's world economy, global mobility, sitting on the cross-roads of regulation and trade, will continue to thrive," Mr Volek added.

Seven countries lost visa-free access to a single country, while 18 countries maintained their level of access year on year, and the remaining 174 nations saw an improvement in their level of access compared to 2017.

Somalia, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan rounded off the bottom five nations globally.

The study also put a spotlight on governments which endorsed citizenship-by-investment schemes to stimulate economic development and growth.

Mr Volek highlighted that countries which offered the most credible citizenship-by-investment arrangements also consistently performed strongly on the index.

Malta - which offers the top-ranked investment migration programme globally - ranks ninth in the world, while similarly sought-after Cyprus ranks 17th.




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