Most economies are opening up, but some countries such as the U.S. have adopted a more ‘immigration-hostile policy.’
The Vietnamese passport has been ranked 88 out of 104 economies, gaining two positions from last year in a ranking that sees more doors opening worldwide.
People holding a Vietnamese passport have free access to 49 countries, compared to 45 last year, the Henley Passport Index 2018 showed.
In Southeast Asia, a Vietnamese passport has the same clout as a Cambodian one, and is only more powerful than Laos and Myanmar.
The region’s biggest economy Indonesia climbed 10 spots from last year, making one of the biggest improvements in the global ranking to claim 69th position.
A Henley press statement said countries in Southeast Asia have remained stable while Africa has suffered the most dramatic decline in travel freedom, with African countries accounting for 19 of the 27 biggest fallers over the past decade.
People from the poor and conflict-torn Somalia, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are the least welcome overseas, as they have free access to only 24-32 countries, said the Henley report, which was released in late February.
Japan and Singapore claimed the top spot as their citizens have access to 180 countries and territories, followed by the German passport which secures free access to 179 economies.
South Korean is another strong Asian country sharing third position with Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Spain and Sweden.
Other European countries Austria, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and the U.K. shared fourth position, followed by the United States, Canada, Ireland and Switzerland in fifth.
The Henley Passport Index is based on data from the International Air Transport Association, which maintains the world’s largest and most comprehensive database of travel information.
“There is no denying that a global mobility divide exists,” Dr. Christian H. Kälin, Group Chairman of Henley & Partners, said in a statement.
He said the improvement in 2018 reflects the fact that most economies are becoming more open “as they seek to tap into the immense economic value that tourism, international commerce and migration can bring.”
But “we are also seeing a growing tendency towards a more isolationist, immigration-hostile policy among traditional migrant-receiving countries such as the U.S., and 2018 will bring further uncertainty, with the U.K. still in the grip of ongoing Brexit negotiations,” said Kälin, an author and leading immigration and citizenship law specialist.