Press "Enter" to skip to content

The Passport Index points to declining fortunes for Asian superpowers India and China

Last updated on 30 March 2023

326 Views

The Passport Index has published its latest update today, revealing that both China and India’s Mobility Scores have fallen, with India experiencing the largest global drop on the Index this year. The Index also showed drops in the scores of other large Asian economies including VietnamIndonesia, and Thailand. This decline indicates the extent to which these countries have not capitalised on the global uptick in mobility recorded last year.

These findings were enabled by the new ‘timeshift’ feature of the Passport Index. This was recently added by popular request to enable an instant, full spectrum view of the relative power of multiple passports over successive years. As a result, India’s decline from its pre-pandemic high has been especially noticeable, falling from a mobility score of 71 ahead of the pandemic in 2019, rising to 73 in 2022 as it rode the post-pandemic wave of increasing mobility. As of March 2023, its mobility score sits at 70.

Individual Passport Power Rank (Q1 2023)

Country

Mobility Score

Visa-Free Entry

Visa-On-Arrival

Visa Required

Percentage Visa-Free and Visa-On-Arrival

1

United Arab Emirates

181

123

58

17

91 %

2

Sweden

174

129

45

24

87 %

3

Germany

174

129

45

24

87 %

4

Finland

174

129

45

24

87 %

5

Luxembourg

174

129

45

24

87 %

6

Spain

174

129

45

24

87 %

7

France

174

129

45

24

87 %

8

Italy

174

129

45

24

87 %

9

Netherlands

174

128

46

24

87 %

10

Austria

174

128

46

24

86 %

Table 1: The 10 most powerful passports (2023)

Country

Change in mobility score from 2022

Kenya

+2

Vatican City

+2

Monaco

+2

Lithuania

+1

Albania

+1

Togo

+1

Malaysia

+1

Botswana

+1

Palau

+1

Zimbabwe

+1

Table 2: The 10 greatest increases in mobility score  

Table 3: The 10 greatest decreases in mobility score

India’s score, showing the sharpest decline of any major economy, is linked to changes in the European Union’s policy. This has seen pressure to introduce visa requirements for Indian nationals placed on countries like Serbia in 2023. India is currently ranked 67th in the Passport Index’s individual rankings.

China, which only recently dropped wide-ranging Covid-19 restrictions on travel, continues to underperform in comparison to other economic giants like the USA and Germany. It is currently ranked 118th in the Passport Index individual rankings, a low score considering its global economic influence. The lack of visa-free agreements with influential blocs like the EU, or regional competitors such as India and Japan therefore continue to limit the strength of its passport.

Notable exceptions to the downward trend in mobility experienced across Asia include South Korea and Japan, with both maintaining their strong positions on the Index. South Korea, which is 12th in the individual rankings with a mobility score of 174, has the highest score in AsiaJapan in 26th with a mobility score of 172 is its closest Asian competitor.

Globally, the year-on-year gains in mobility post-Covid, which had seen the World Openness Score improve by an average of 19% in both 2021 and 2022, have started to reverse with a 0.3% fall since the start of 2023. Much of this past growth was stimulated by recovery from the historic collapse witnessed during the Covid-19 pandemic, however, given the links between high mobility scores and economic growth this decline in global mobility could prove a worrying development for many countries facing a dramatic inflationary environment.

Across the Index’s rankings, only ten countries have seen a rise in their mobility score this year. Sweden overtook Germany, rising to second overall. Elsewhere, Kenya continued its upward trajectory, jumping four places in the individual rankings to record the largest gain in global mobility this year. This is in line with broader movements towards greater mobility in the African continent: of the ten countries showing mobility growth, 40% were African nations.

Hrant Boghossian, Co-founder of the Passport Index, commented: “After the historic gains in global mobility made over the last two years as many countries emerged from pandemic-related visa controls, there has been a slowdown in growth so far this year. Both China and India have seen their passport mobility slump, however we believe that the effects of China’s reopening have not yet been fully realised.

With the removal of its pandemic travel restrictions China may now look to improve its global mobility – securing visa agreements to gain streamlined international access for its citizens would naturally align with China’s longer-term strategy to increase its global influence. However, this will be weighed against increasing friction with the USA and Western Europe, likely restricting deals to countries closer to China’s sphere of influence.

The jump in African mobility is a trend we are following closely: many nations in Africa will be the superpowers of tomorrow, and this is being reflected in the uptick in passport activity as other states look to deepen their ties with key players.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *