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Passport power and why it matters

  • Strong passports, allowing more visa-free international travel, are not well correlated with a country's income level

  • But they might help low income EMs increase remittance inflows or non-commodity exports, other factors being equal

  • We review passport strength across emerging markets after the most recent update to the Henley & Partners index

Passport power and why it matters
Hasnain Malik
Hasnain Malik

Strategy & Head of Equity Research

Tellimer Research
30 July 2022
Published byTellimer Research

In light of the recent update to the Henley & Partners Passport Index, which measures the number of countries to which a passport enables visa-free travel, we review the data across emerging markets. Does 'passport power' correlate with income levels, as one might assume?

Passport power in emerging markets

The answer is that the correlation is not as strong as one might expect. Notable discrepancies include South Korea versus Taiwan, the UAE versus Qatar, Brazil versus Mexico, Kenya versus Nigeria and India versus Pakistan.

Passport strength is not simply correlated with high income

Passport strength should help drive higher non-commodity export revenues because it makes it easier for company executives to market to international markets. Of course, there are a host of other factors that are almost certainly more important, such as labour costs, labour force education and skills, trade access and tariffs.

Stronger passports might help exports for poorer EMs

Passport strength, though, might help drive higher inward remittances for low income countries by easing international migration.

Stronger passports might boost remittances for poorer EMs

And it might be considered a reflection of a country's geopolitical leverage. But a strong passport obviously offers no protection from sovereign sanctions – just ask the Russian oligarchs!

Passport strength is no insulation from sovereign sanctions