Why Europe Lost The Crown Of ‘World’s Strongest Passport’ To Singapore – Forbes

The central business district of Singapore, on Sunday, June 4, 2017. (Photographer: Sanjit Das/Bloomberg)

Citizens of Singapore now hold onto the most powerful passport in the world, signaling the Asia-Pacific’s desire to facilitate open trade, travel and policy as Western nations pull back.

The tiny city-state of nearly 6 million is the first Asian nation to hold the premier spot on Arton Capital’s Global Passport Index, flanked by South Korea and Japan, in the third and fourth spots respectively.

Singapore and Germany had been tied in first place with a score of 158 on the Index, which ranks nations by their citizens’ ability to trot the globe without a visa or obtain a visa upon arrival. Now that Paraguay allowed Singaporean passport holders into their borders visa-free, Singapore reigns supreme with a score of 159.

“It is a testament of Singapore’s inclusive diplomatic relations and effective foreign policy,” said managing director of Arton Capital’s Singapore office Philippe May.

Arton Capital, the primary source of passport ranking index, rates citizens’ freedom to travel based on the number of countries a passport holder can visit visa-free or with a visa on arrival. In the event of a tie, Arton uses UNDP’s Human Development Index, which ranks countries on their perception abroad.

Western countries grow cold

The top ranks had traditionally been held by western European countries, including Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland. But nationalist sentiments in the region, as well as the United States, have pushed the nations out of the index’s peak.

Germany responded to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open borders policy by cutting her party’s majority. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

Germany responded to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open borders policy by voting enough right-wing, anti-immigration Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) politicians into parliament to cut Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party majority. If Germany’s alt-right politicians succeed, the country risks falling below their noble second-place rank.

The U.S.’s myriad sanctions and anti-immigrant agenda under the Trump administration caused the nation to fall from fourth place to sixth on the passport index.

More welcoming

Though western countries have started to take a colder approach with sanctions and border policy, some Asian countries have embraced wider foreign policy efforts and moved higher into the rankings.

Last September, Singapore was tied in fourth place at 155 points with the U.S. and three other European countries. South Korea and Japan have maintained rankings in the top five since last year, while Malaysia homes into the top ranks at sixth place.

Tourists gather at Merlion park to take pictures overlooking Marina bay in Singapore on August 11, 2016. (Photo credit: ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Singapore in particular shows diplomatic acumen, managing comfortable business relationships with China while reaching out to Taiwan.

In an address to an Asia-Pacific global strategy forum on Wednesday, Singapore’s Senior Minister of State Dr. Mohamad Maliki bin Osman condemned the impact of nationalist feelings in the West, and warned the Asia-Pacific region not to dismantle free trade policies over territorial disputes and nationalism.

“Amid these strains of nationalist sentiments, a key challenge for governments of today and tomorrow will be to find ways to strengthen collaboration for win-win outcomes, and not widen the gulf between them,” he said.

Why Europe Lost The Crown Of ‘World’s Strongest Passport’ To Singapore – Forbes

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