Myanmar lowest among ASEAN countries in passport index

Myanmar ranks 95th out of 107, the lowest among ASEAN nations, in the latest Henley Passport Index, mainly due to a lack of economic freedom.

The index is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association and scored based on visa-free and visa-on-arrival access to other countries.

Japan and Singapore hold first place on the index, with a score of 190 out of a maximum 227. Myanmar scored 46 alongside Djibouti and Nigeria.

Finland, Germany, and South Korea remain in 2nd place with scores of 188,, while Denmark, Italy, and Luxembourg are placed third, being able to travel to 187 destinations worldwide without the requirement of a visa in advance. The UK and the US are at 6th place with a score of 184 – the lowest position either country has held since 2010 and a massive drop from their 1st-place ranking in 2014.

Among ASEAN countries Malaysia is ranked 12th place with a score of 177 and Brunei at 21st place with a score of 165. The ranking then dropped 45 places with Thailand ranking at 65th with a score of 77. Indonesia is ranked 73rd with a score of 70; the Philippines at 77th with 65; Cambodia at 88th with 53; Vietnam at 90th place with 51; and Laos at 92nd place with 49. Myanmar, in 95th place globally, remains the poorest performer in the region.

In 2014, Myanmar’s rank was 86 with visa-free access to 42 countries. Although official scores for 10 years ago are not available for Myanmar, it is estimated that the country had visa-free access to around 30 countries only. Myanmar now enjoys visa-free access to 46 countries.

But “passport power” is now more than just destinations travelers can get to without the need for a visa, said Dominic Volek, managing partner and head of Southeast Asia at Henley & Partners.

“Based on our ongoing research, there is a strong correlation between visa freedom and other benefits such as business and investment freedom, independence of the judiciary, fiscal health, and property rights,” he explained.

Utilising historic data from the Henley Passport Index and the Index of Economic Freedom, political science researchers discovered a strongly positive correlation between visa freedom and a variety of indicators of economic freedom, including foreign direct investment inflows, property rights, tax burden, and investment freedom.

Countries, which have higher visa scores also, rank top in economic freedom, especially in investment, financial, and business freedom.

“One especially striking example of this positive correlation is Singapore, which ranks highest in nearly all economic indicators and holds the top spot on the Henley Passport Index,” they said.

For most of the index’s 14-year history, a European country or the US has been ranked at the top but this shifted dramatically in 2018, with Asian nations climbing up in the ranking.

The index’s top 10 ranking has remained relatively stable since the last update in July, but there have been some noticeable shifts in the lower ranking.

The UAE has jumped five places over the last three months after gaining visa-free access to a number of African countries, including South Africa, and now ranks in 15th place.

Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan are at the bottom of the ranking, with visa-free/visa-on-arrival scores of just 29, 27, and 25, respectively.

Source: Myanmar Times

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