CAN GLOBAL CI­TI­ZEN­SHIP SUR­VIVE?

De­spite the na­tion­al­ist mood tak­ing over some de­vel­oped coun­tries, there are al­ter­na­tives for global ci­ti­zen­ship shop­pers to feel good about the fu­ture

The Peak (Hong Kong) - - Contents - JEN­NIFER LAI Jen­nifer Lai is the man­ag­ing part­ner and head of North Asia for Hen­ley & Part­ners.

Glob­al­i­sa­tion and global co­op­er­a­tion are in­creas­ingly un­der threat. Last year alone, Rus­sia, Bu­rundi, the Gam­bia, and South Africa all in­di­cated their with­drawal from the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC). In the EU, anti-im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy gained ground in coun­tries such as Aus­tria, Poland, Hun­gary, the Nether­lands and Ger­many. In the US, Pres­i­dent Trump pulled out of a num­ber of in­ter­na­tional treaties and agree­ments, in­clud­ing the Trans-pa­cific Part­ner­ship, the Paris cli­mate ac­cord, the UN Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific, and Cul­tural Or­gan­i­sa­tion (Unesco), and the UN Global Com­pact on Mi­gra­tion.

All of this is cause for con­cern. But global co­op­er­a­tion is one thing, and global ci­ti­zen­ship is an­other. And while global co­op­er­a­tion is in cri­sis, global ci­ti­zen­ship — per­haps as a re­sult — has never been stronger. Ci­ti­zens today of­ten feel part of a global com­mu­nity even as their gov­ern­ments be­come more in­su­lar. The re­mark­able ex­pan­sion of the In­ter­net, so­cial me­dia, and smart phones to al­most ev­ery corner of the globe means that peo­ple are more in­ter­con­nected, mu­tu­ally aware and mu­tu­ally con­cerned than ever be­fore.

A 2016 poll con­ducted by Globes­can showed that global ci­ti­zen­ship, as an iden­tity and way of life, is thriv­ing. Some 20,000 peo­ple from 18 coun­tries were sur­veyed as part of the poll, and more than half of these peo­ple in­di­cated that they see them­selves more as global ci­ti­zens than as ci­ti­zens of their spe­cific coun­try. This was the first time in the poll’s his­tory that the global ma­jor­ity was tilted to­wards in­ter­na­tional rather than na­tional iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

The trend is even more pro­nounced among ul­tra-high-net-worth in­di­vid­u­als. The most re­cent Bar­clays Wealth In­sights sur­vey found that mo­bil­ity among the wealthy is at an all-time high, with 70 per cent of re­spon­dents say­ing that they in­vest in a ge­o­graph­i­cally di­ver­si­fied port­fo­lio of as­sets, and the ma­jor­ity also say­ing that they ex­pect their chil­dren to live in mul­ti­ple coun­tries. Wealthy fam­i­lies grav­i­tate to­wards coun­tries that of­fer ci­ti­zens an ex­pan­sive set of op­por­tu­ni­ties in­ter­nally (high lev­els of peace, sta­bil­ity and hu­man and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment) and ex­ter­nally (strong travel and set­tle­ment free­dom).

And yet, in Asia-pa­cific last year, the gov­ern­ments of Aus­tralia and New Zealand both took steps in 2017 to curb the num­ber of skilled in­di­vid­u­als com­ing into their coun­tries by ei­ther scrap­ping pop­u­lar visa pro­grams or mak­ing the qual­i­fy­ing cri­te­ria more strin­gent.

Other coun­tries pur­sued dif­fer­ent strate­gies, how­ever, in an at­tempt to ease mo­bil­ity and at­tract tal­ent. Kate Cod­ding­ton, as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of ge­og­ra­phy at Durham Univer­sity in the UK, re­cently pointed out that Tai­wan, Ja­pan, and China have all re­cently re­laxed visa re­quire­ments for skilled and ed­u­cated pro­fes­sion­als, mak­ing it eas­ier to live in these coun­tries, own prop­erty, en­rol chil­dren in lo­cal schools and ac­cess pub­lic ser­vices. As she ex­plains: “The push in the Pa­cific Rim to en­cour­age skilled mi­grants opens doors, just as op­por­tu­ni­ties for skilled­mi­grant mo­bil­ity else­where are po­ten­tially di­min­ish­ing. Coun­tries in the re­gion are seiz­ing the op­por­tu­nity pre­sented by skilled work­ers who find them­selves shut out of tra­di­tion­ally de­sir­able des­ti­na­tions.”

Just as some gov­ern­ments in Asia are try­ing to at­tract skilled labour to their ju­ris­dic­tions, so gov­ern­ments in other parts of the world — par­tic­u­larly in Europe and the Caribbean — are try­ing to at­tract ul­tra-high­net-worth in­di­vid­u­als from Asia and else­where through in­vest­ment mi­gra­tion. In­deed, more and more gov­ern­ments are wak­ing up to the value of res­i­dence- and cit­i­zen­shipby-in­vest­ment as a source of much-needed cap­i­tal in­flow, and the num­ber and qual­ity of pro­grammes avail­able is grow­ing each year.

The in­vest­ment mi­gra­tion in­dus­try it­self is gain­ing vis­i­bil­ity: the lead­ing firms in the busi­ness have formed the In­vest­ment Mi­gra­tion Coun­cil (IMC), a pro­fes­sional as­so­ci­a­tion en­sur­ing stan­dards and codes of con­duct, and ma­jor global play­ers such as the

US, the UK, and the EU have of­fi­cially en­dorsed se­lected pro­grammes.

For Chi­nese in­di­vid­u­als in gen­eral, the most pop­u­lar res­i­dence-by-in­vest­ment pro­gramme is still the tra­di­tional US EB-5 visa pro­gramme, although there is grow­ing un­cer­tainty about its fu­ture. Other pop­u­lar pro­grammes for Asian clients in­clude the UK Tier 1 In­vestor Pro­gram, the Por­tu­gal Golden Res­i­dence Per­mit Pro­gram, the Aus­tralia Busi­ness In­no­va­tion and In­vest­ment Pro­gramme, and the Malta Res­i­dence and Visa Pro­gram. The Thai­land Elite Res­i­dence Pro­gram is also at­tract­ing in­ter­est from na­tion­als in neigh­bour­ing Asian coun­tries, thanks to its rel­a­tively low cost and the high stan­dard of liv­ing it af­fords.

For Asian high-net-worth in­di­vid­u­als, the Malta In­di­vid­ual In­vestor Pro­gram and the Cyprus Ci­ti­zen­ship-by-in­vest­ment Pro­gram re­main ex­tremely ap­peal­ing due to the set­tle­ment free­dom that both a Mal­tese and a Cypriot pass­port pro­vide. Both pass­ports give pre­vi­ously non-eu na­tion­als the right to live, work, study, and set­tle in any mem­ber state in the EU.

There is also sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­est among wealthy Asian na­tion­als in Caribbean ci­ti­zen­ship- by-in­vest­ment pro­grammes. The main ap­peal of these pro­grams is the high lev­els of travel free­dom they pro­vide, cou­pled with their highly com­pet­i­tive pric­ing. The An­tigua and Bar­buda pro­gramme, for ex­am­ple, now re­quires (for a lim­ited time-pe­riod) a min­i­mum do­na­tion of only US$100,000 for a fam­ily of up to four peo­ple. St Kitts and Ne­vis, mean­while, has in­tro­duced a Hur­ri­cane Re­lief Fund do­na­tion op­tion of US$150,000 for a fam­ily of up to four peo­ple. Gre­nada con­tin­ues to be an at­trac­tive op­tion for Asian in­di­vid­u­als who pre­fer to in­vest in real es­tate rather than do­nate their wealth. In 2017, the Gre­na­dian pro­gramme saw a year-on-year in­crease of 300 per cent in ap­pli­ca­tion num­bers.

We think that the ris­ing tide of pop­ulist na­tion­al­ism, though con­cern­ing, is no threat to global ci­ti­zen­ship. The mo­ments of geopo­lit­i­cal un­cer­tainty and in­se­cu­rity that we bear wit­ness to on a daily ba­sis only strengthen the ap­peal of an ex­panded ci­ti­zen­ship port­fo­lio, i.e., op­tions in a range of qual­ity na­tion­al­i­ties in mul­ti­ple ju­ris­dic­tions. As such, we an­tic­i­pate that the in­vest­ment mi­gra­tion in­dus­try will con­tinue to grow in rel­e­vance and value over the com­ing decade.

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