Asia could be a beneficiary from the UK’s departure from the European Union, with Brexit meaning Asia could be a ‘pillar’ of the UK’s post-Brexit economic policy.
According to Henley Passport Index, which ranks global passports on how many countries they can access visa-free, Asian countries ranked highly with Japan and Singapore holding the joint first position.
This was in contrast to the UK which was in sixth place, joint with the United States, and its lowest position since 2010. Its ranking was likely to fall further post-Brexit with UK citizens facing ‘more restrictive immigration regimes’ following the exit.
While European countries were previously recognised as holding high positions, since 2018, this had shifted in favour of Asia.
Madeleine Sumption from the Migration Observatory at Oxford University said: “Unlike trade policy, the future of immigration policy in the UK does not depend fundamentally on whether or not the UK leaves the EU with a deal. In either scenario, there will be a ‘transitional period’ until at least December 2020, in which free movement of EU citizens to the UK will continue more or less as it operates today. After that, the UK is expected to introduce a new immigration system.
“The full details have not yet been announced, but it will make long-term settlement much more difficult for EU citizens. And UK citizens who want to move to EU countries after Brexit will also face more restrictive immigration regimes.”
Asia had not yet prioritised any individual free trade agreements with the UK but Henley & Partners said it expected UK citizens would be spending more time in Asia.
“For more than a year, former UK foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has been saying that Asia would need to be a pillar of the country's post-Brexit global economic policy. If indeed the UK is able to advance more free trade in services with Asian countries, this will require more British citizens to spend time in Asia to generate business across sectors such as finance, advisory, education, and others,” said Dr Parag Khanna, managing partner of FutureMap.