Image for post
Image for post

Dr. Parag Khanna, founder and managing partner of FutureMap, a data and
scenario-based strategic advisory firm headquartered in Singapore, and
author of numerous books including Connectography, The Future is Asian

With our freedom curtailed once again as governments across the world reinstated lockdown measures late last year due to resurgences of coronavirus, it seems paradoxical to be forecasting the future of global mobility. Yet the signs of our innate desire to move were evident before the pandemic struck. In the year preceding our Covid-19 containment, 1.5 …

Image for post
Image for post

As 2021 commences, the latest results from the Henley Passport Index — the original ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa — provide fascinating insights into the future of travel freedom in a world that has been transformed by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Without taking temporary restrictions into account, Japan continues to hold the number one position on the index, with passport holders able to access 191 destinations around the world visa-free. This marks the third consecutive year that Japan has held the top spot, either alone or jointly with Singapore. Asia Pacific (APAC) region countries’ dominance of the index — which is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) — now seems firmly established. Singapore sits in 2nd position, with access to 190 destinations, and South Korea holds onto 3rd place alongside Germany, with both having a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 189. …

Image for post
Image for post

Greg Lindsay, Director of Applied Research at NewCities

Estonia may be best known — at least for those in the know — as the nation that rebooted itself in the cloud. Boasting the world’s most ambitious and secure Internet infrastructure, the nation issues its citizens digital identity cards with access to thousands of services — including paying taxes in minutes. In 2015, the government elected to make these available to non-citizens. …

Image for post
Image for post

Lorraine Charles, Research Associate at the Centre for Business Research at the University of Cambridge in the UK

Middle Eastern migration is heavily influenced by political dynamics, but more often by conflict. The region has become synonymous with waves of refugees — Palestinians fleeing Israeli occupation in 1948; Iraqis escaping various conflicts, and more recently, Syrians escaping civil war.

Like other Middle Eastern countries that have experienced protracted conflict, Lebanon’s is a different migration narrative. Lebanon is a country of migration; its diaspora is larger than the number of Lebanese in Lebanon. Despite several waves of Lebanese pursuing immigration pathways to Europe and North and South America, Lebanese emigrants have not been burdened with the label of ‘refugees’, likely because most who fled were at least middle class and benefited from extensive networks abroad. The current economic crisis combined with the devastating impact of the August explosion has caused another surge of emigration. …

Image for post
Image for post

Covid-19 Jeopardizes Mobility in Europe’s Schengen Area

Prof. Simone Bertoli, Professor of Economics at Université Clermont
Auvergne in France and a Research Fellow at the Institute of Labor Economics in Germany

In March 2020, most European countries unilaterally closed their borders without notifying the European Commission, thereby also denying entry to their non-resident citizens — violating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states (Article 13) that “everyone has the right […] to return
to his country”.

Will the resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe produce serious consequences for free mobility within the Schengen Area again? It is difficult to be optimistic as the single most important factor that could trigger new cross-border restrictions is the evidently markedly different trajectories of the pandemic
across European countries. Nevertheless, what happened in March is unlikely to be repeated. The announcement of an unprecedented EU recovery plan, partly financed through collective debt, reduces the risk of uncoordinated unilateral decisions to close borders, as countries will seek to avoid diplomatic friction. France’s pivotal role in the difficult recovery plan negotiations probably partially explains why Italy, the main beneficiary, has not restricted mobility from its western neighbor, notwithstanding the soaring number of
cases in France since mid-August. …

Image for post
Image for post

Curtis S. Chin, Former US Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank, the inaugural Asia Fellow of the Milken Institute and managing director of advisory firm RiverPeak Group, LLC in Virginia in the US

Government-imposed economic shutdowns have seemingly accelerated the unraveling of globalization, barring leisure and business travelers — regardless of their passports — from once frequently visited destinations. In New York, London, Bangkok and other cities that were once among the world’s most visited, restaurants and small businesses have closed and airports have emptied.

Yet, there remains hope for better days ahead.

Critically, progress continues in the search for medical solutions to the ongoing pandemic. US election-year rhetoric should not obscure either steps forward or missteps in the Covid-19 battle. (As of 6 November 2020, there were 319 treatments and 214 vaccines being tracked by my Milken Institute colleagues in a widely cited ‘Covid-19 Treatment and Vaccine Tracker’, using an aggregation of publicly available information from validated sources). From telehealth and online learning to now ubiquitous Zoom meetings, technology has played a critical role in mitigating today’s limits on local, national, and global mobility. …

Image for post
Image for post

Rob McNeil, Deputy Director and Head of Media and Communications at the Migration Observatory the University of Oxford in the UK

A year ago it would have been inconceivable that Brexit would be relegated to being a secondary concern for most who follow UK migration issues. The tragic impacts of Covid-19 have exploded the concept of ‘business as usual’. The pandemic has forced a fundamental re-evaluation of how businesses and industries function, how education is delivered, and even whether friends and relatives in other countries can be visited.

Nevertheless, as the end of 2020 approaches, yet another dramatic Brexit ‘finale’ looms. The end of the transition period is in sight, yet there is a real risk that disagreements or political brinkmanship will see the UK leaving the EU with no deal. Whatever the final form of the UK’s departure from the EU, it is likely to affect migration. After the 2016 referendum, the depreciation of the pound reduced the UK’s attractiveness to EU workers — something that may recur if Brexit rattles financial markets further. Meanwhile, increased restrictions on EU migrants’ access to the UK labor market, including skills and income requirements, are set to be implemented as new rules under the 2020 immigration bill. …

Image for post
Image for post

Charles Phillips, Independent researcher and consultant for Oxford Business Group whose field of expertise is energy and climate change policy in the Middle East

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, national lockdowns and limits on mobility have caused a reduction in global carbon emissions. Given the intimate connection between the adverse impacts of climate change and future patterns of global migration, it is important to ask whether Covid-19 and the economic fallout will have a significant long-term impact on climate change. …

Image for post
Image for post

Dr. Parag Khanna, Founder and Managing Partner of FutureMap, a data- and scenario-based strategic advisory firm headquartered in Singapore, and author of numerous books including Connectography and The Future is Asian

In recent years we have grown accustomed to Asian passports climbing the ladder of global access — but not to Western passports tumbling down. The every-country-for-itself Covid-19 response has been particularly cruel to Americans, whose visa-free score has plummeted from 184 in January to fewer than 75 destinations when the current travel restrictions are considered. And while these include Canada and Mexico, America’s only two borders remained firmly closed regardless. Furthermore, the EU has steadfastly kept the US off its safe list. …

Image for post
Image for post

Coronavirus-related travel restrictions are beginning to lift in some countries after more than six months of panic and uncertainty. The resumption of international cross-border travel may appear to be a signal that things are slowly returning to normal, but as the latest research from the Henley Passport Index — based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) — shows, the pandemic has completely upended the seemingly unshakeable hierarchy of global mobility that has dominated the last few decades, with more change still to come.

At the beginning of the year, for instance, the US passport was ranked in 6th position on the Henley Passport Index — the original ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa — and Americans could travel hassle-free to 185 destinations around the world. Since then, that number has dropped dramatically by over 100, with US passport holders currently able to access fewer than 75 destinations, with the most popular tourist and business centers notably excluded. As criticism of the country’s pandemic response continues to mount, and with the US presidential election just weeks away, the precipitous decline of US passport power and American travel freedom is seen as a clear indication of its altered status in the eyes of the international community. …

About

Henley & Partners

The Global Leader in Residence and Citizenship Planning — www.henleyglobal.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store