The Passport Index reveals that Despite Conflict in Europe and Global Border Anxieties, 99.5% of the World Experiences Growth in Global Mobility in 2022

Passport Index app

MONTREAL, Dec. 06, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Passport Index has published its latest update today, showing that global mobility is rising, despite the eruption of conflict in Europe and growing tensions over borders. Though the world continues to feel the aftershocks of the pandemic, surprisingly, traveling has never been easier, with steady growth in passport power, a trend that is predicted to continue into 2023. Across these findings, what stands out, in particular, is that the passport of almost every single country around the world became more powerful this year. 

Country Change in mobility score (2022)
Malaysia +31
St. Vincent and the Grenadines +31
Guatemala +30
Micronesia +30
Brazil +30
Palau +30
Solomon Islands +29
Brunei +29
Barbados +29
Saint Lucia +29

Table 1: Top 10 changes in mobility score   

Country Change in mobility score (2022)
Armenia +6
Tanzania +6
Pakistan +6
Lebanon +5
Burundi +5
Bangladesh +4
Syria +4
Libya +4
Afghanistan +4
Vanuatu -7

Table 2: Bottom 10 changes in mobility score

This may be surprising given the ongoing war in Ukraine in combination with systemic pressures on international supply chains. However, the latest data from the Passport Index indicates strong mobility growth. Whilst the removal of Covid-19 restrictions has certainly played a role, countries around the world have also been keen to reap the economic benefits offered by enabling easy movement around the world. Passport power around the world has increased by an average of 16 points this year, with just one country, Vanuatu, seeing its mobility score fall. This was due to the suspension of their visa waiver scheme with the European Union. The fact the power of their passport has fallen by just seven points despite this indicates strong growth elsewhere.

Individual Passport Power Rank (2022) Country Mobility Score Visa-Free Entry Visa-On-Arrival Visa Required Percentage Visa-Free and Visa-On-Arrival
1 United Arab Emirates 180 121 59 18 91%
2 Germany 173 127 46 25 87%
3 Sweden 173 126 47 25 87%
4 Finland 173 126 47 25 87%
5 Luxembourg 173 126 47 25 87%
6 Spain 173 126 47 25 87%
7 France 173 126 47 25 87%
8 Italy 173 126 47 25 87%
9 Netherlands 173 125 48 25 87%
10 Austria 171 123 48 25 86%

Table 3: 10 most powerful passports (2022)

Not only are passports becoming more powerful, but countries are becoming increasingly open to visa-free arrivals. Prior to the pandemic, the average growth of the World Openness Score was 3.6% a year. After the impact of the pandemic, the score experienced a decline of 65%, falling from 21,360 to 12,944. Since then, growth has rebounded spectacularly, with an average growth rate of 18.8%. At the end of 2022, this score now stands at 21,695; the highest it’s ever been.

The finding of general growth in global mobility does, however, obscure some of the winners and losers this year. The UK falls into this latter category: though it has seen its global mobility score rise again, its year-on-year gains have stagnated relative to other European states, such as France. This trend appears set to continue as the UK struggles to strike the visa agreements achieved by states within the EU. This is largely attributable to the consequences of leaving the common market.

Alongside the rise in passport power around the world, countries, in general, have become more welcoming, with a greater number of countries accepting more passports visa-free, with visa on arrival, or with electronic travel agreement. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Africa, where many countries, especially those in Central and West Africa, have continued to create a travel environment that is accessible to all, no matter the nationality on your passport. The Passport Index’s Welcoming Countries Rank shows that 15 of the 23 most welcoming countries in the world are found in Africa, welcoming 198 countries out of 199.

Hrant Boghossian, Co-founder of the Passport Index, commented that “the rise in passport power that we have seen this year brings great cause for optimism. The world has surpassed the benchmark of ‘openness’ set prior to the pandemic, and there are strong indicators that this upward trend is here to stay. It is particularly encouraging to see such growth at a time of heightened geopolitical tension and economic turmoil, indicating that countries agree that a world with fewer borders has the potential to address some of the defining challenges of the 21st century.”

Contact Information:
Jasper Rose
Consultant, The Agency Partnership

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Colliers expands offering in Belgium

Acquisition strengthens capabilities in Benelux region

TORONTO and BRUSSELS, Belgium, Dec. 06, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Leading diversified professional services and investment management company, Colliers (NASDAQ and TSX: CIGI), announced today that it has acquired a majority interest in BelSquare SRL (“Belsquare”), a leading Belgian commercial real estate advisor with offices in Brussels and Antwerp. Belsquare will be rebranded as Colliers and merged with Colliers’ existing operations in Belgium (“Colliers Belgium”). Belsquare’s senior management team will lead Colliers Belgium and retain a significant equity stake going forward under Colliers’ unique partnership model. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 2013, Belsquare brings an outstanding team of transactional experts that will strengthen Colliers’ presence in the region. The combined Colliers Belgium operations will have more than 70 professionals and offer a full suite of services for clients including capital markets advisory, leasing, valuation, project management, and property management.

“Building on our current capabilities in project management and property management, this partnership adds a market-leading transactional business and provides Colliers with a full suite of capabilities to service our national and international clients,” said Davoud Amel-Azizpour, CEO of Colliers | EMEA. “This is the latest investment in a series of strategic acquisitions in EMEA that demonstrates our growth throughout Europe.”

“Our partnership with Colliers is a logical next step in the firm’s evolution as we share Colliers’ enterprising culture and commitment to service excellence,” said David Vermeesch, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Belsquare. “We will benefit from the Colliers’ global brand, platform, and relationships, which positions us to accelerate our combined growth over the coming years. We are extremely excited and look forward to being part of a diversified and resilient firm like Colliers,” added Charles Lasserre, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Belsquare.

About Colliers

Colliers (NASDAQ, TSX: CIGI) is a leading diversified professional services and investment management company. With operations in 63 countries, our 18,000 enterprising professionals work collaboratively to provide expert real estate and investment advice to clients. For more than 27 years, our experienced leadership with significant inside ownership has delivered compound annual investment returns of approximately 20% for shareholders. With annual revenues of $4.6 billion and $92 billion of assets under management, Colliers maximizes the potential of property and real assets to accelerate the success of our clients, our investors and our people. Learn more at, Twitter @Colliers or LinkedIn.

Colliers Contacts:

Christian Mayer
Chief Financial Officer | Global
(416) 960-9500

Davoud Amel-Azizpour
Chief Executive Officer | EMEA
(44) 20 7487 7020

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Metaverse Fashion Week Returns in Spring 2023 To Highlight Advances in Digital Fashion & Interoperability

The web3 revolution continues next year with the annual exploration of what fashion will look like in virtual worlds, featuring participation from the first CFDA-Recognized Fashion Week to join MVFW

NEW YORK, Dec. 06, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Decentraland, the world’s largest user-owned and operated virtual social world, announced today the return of Metaverse Fashion Week (MVFW) which will be held from March 28-31, 2023, concluding the Spring/Summer Fashion season on virtual catwalks. Pioneered by Decentraland and UNXD, a leading immersive art & culture platform, in collaboration with the Spatial and OVER metaverses, MVFW23 invites the global community to experience the latest advancements in metaversal interoperability and digital fashion.

At the inaugural Metaverse Fashion Week 2022 earlier this year, Decentraland hosted over 108,000 people who explored the burgeoning world of Wearables and digital fashion in the most important digital fashion event of the year. Iconic luxury brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Tommy Hilfiger, Selfridges, Guo Pei, Paco Rabanne, and dozens of others graced the metaverse with their historic flair and technological visions of what digital fashion looks like, and a peek at how this new sector of the economy will evolve. Both legacy fashion houses and new digital fashion brands combined minted over 165,000 free Wearables during this year’s MVFW.

“I am incredibly honored to be leading the second annual Metaverse Fashion Week and cannot wait to show the world what has developed since the last time we showcased the fashion revolution in the metaverse on a grand stage. Within one year, we have shown the world one of the strongest and most obvious use cases for the metaverse yet—digital fashion. After all, we don’t all want to look like dull copies of the same avatar in our digital lives. Just like in the real world, we all want to individualize and curate the personal aesthetics that we are recognized for,” said Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro, Head of Metaverse Fashion Week.

The curatorial theme of MVFW23 is ‘Future Heritage,’ a challenge to connect the next generation of creators and traditional fashion designers, showing the potential of fashion to bridge realities and worlds. The event shines a light on the fashion industry of today, proposing a diversity of aesthetics across metaverses, connecting innovation to tradition, and looking back to the great moments of fashion to build the future.

“Metaverse Fashion Week is a tentpole moment for digital fashion where both brands and consumers can experience the future of fashion. MVFW is a direct extension of UNXD’s mission to bridge luxury between the real world and the metaverse. After our successful first season with Decentraland, we’re thrilled to be expanding the MVFW platform together to encompass additional metaverses,” said Shashi Menon, Co-Founder and CEO of UNXD.

Interoperability: The Builders & Pioneers Making it Possible

Decentraland will be partnering with Spatial and OVER to bring to life the next generation of interoperability across an open and free metaverse. In the same way that New York Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week are not limited to one type of aesthetic or one type of fabric, MVFW is expanding to invite those building digital fashion to consider the endless potential of interoperable metaverses in which one can bring a Wearable to the other with ease.

What to Expect:

  • Miami Fashion Week will be the first CFDA globally recognized fashion week to participate during Metaverse Fashion Week with a special activation and runway shows on the rooftop of MIAFW’s L’Atelier in the The Luxury Fashion District. On December 2nd, Megan Kasper hosted the inauguration of the MIAFW’s L’Atelier in Decentraland and livestreamed the private event, curated by Dr. Graziosi Casimiro.
  • Working with high end fashion names, Phygicode comes as a consortium specialized in luxury and hybrid solutions for fashion bringing partners and brands to the event.
  • Threedium will return with their pioneering 3D/AR Commerce Engine that will power their own luxury mall, enabling a connected commerce infrastructure for brands to build and share customized wearables and Augmented Reality experiences.
  • Boson – the decentralized commerce protocol will expand their participation by enabling brands to sell physical and phygital items in the metaverse as redeemable NFTs. Once tokenized, Boson-redeemable NFTs can be traded, held, gifted or redeemed for the physical item.
  • DRESSX, the largest metacloset™ for digital clothes, AR looks and fashion NFTs is an official event partner and will onboard brands who are keen to explore their unique AR components.
  • Curator David Cash and their team at Cash Labs will return to present and produce experiences for an array of established fashion brands and exciting new digital native designers in Decentraland and beyond.
  • In addition, to Cash, in order to support the growing creator ecosystem, Decentraland is building an advisory board of curators to select designers to participate in the next event edition, among them, the Institute of Digital Fashion (IODF), Fashion3 by MAD Global, House of Web3, and The Fabricant. With the help of those curators a new plaza will be built, showcasing the new horizons of digital fashion and disruptive activations.

Luxury Returns to the Metaverse: Catwalks, Super Models and IRL Fashion Week

Inside Decentraland, MVFW will return to the Luxury Fashion District where several brands will debut new digital collections inside the Fashion Arena on the catwalk. Returning to this district will be internationally recognizable fashion houses and brands that will be announced in early January.

New Features & Activations:

  • Decentraland is now making it easier than ever for brands to participate and build in the metaverse with the addition of self-service tools to create Wearables and Emotes, and the new feature that allows brands to “rent” land for specific periods of time. This facilitates easy and reliable access to land through Decentraland’s smart contract marketplace.
  • Curated by the Decentraland Foundation and luxury NFT marketplace UNXD, MVFW Lux will showcase luxury fashion houses in a beautiful environment hosted across the Luxury Fashion District (Metaverse Group) and adjacent Plaza. Experiences will include runway shows, exclusive Wearable collections, immersive 3D/AR web experiences, pop-up stores, the introduction of the first physical fashion week to the metaverse, and a closing performance.
  • New to the 2023 schedule is MVFW Neo, designed to support and celebrate the next generation of digital designers. Working with pioneering digital-first companies, Decentraland has selected a number of new digital fashion designers and up-and-coming physical designers to develop their work and designs within the Web3 space.
  • Not only new fashion designers will be shown, but the first official MVFW supermodel will be introduced: Tangpoko, a DCL community member deeply involved in the fashion and pop culture within the Web3 space will be the main supermodel this season.
  • In addition, MVFW will present a runway show featuring Barth, the season two winner of “The Hype” on HBO Max. As part of the Next Generation initiative, the event will present an exclusive DCL wearable collection created by the second season’s winner in his debut inside the Metaverse.

Join Decentraland at the next installment of Metaverse Fashion Week by pre-registering here. Follow Decentraland on Twitter and the event hashtag, #MVFW23, and join our Discord to learn more. For fashion brands, designers and retailers interested in participating in MVFW23, feel free to apply via this form.

About Decentraland
Launched in 2020, Decentraland is a virtual social world powered by the Ethereum blockchain and the first decentralized metaverse. Within the Decentraland platform, users can create, experience, and monetize content and applications as well as socialize and attend a wide range of daily community-driven events. Decentraland is unique in that it is owned, created, and governed by the people who use it every day. Through the decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) users can submit proposals and even apply for grants for the community to vote on.

About UNXD
UNXD is bringing iconic luxury and culture to the metaverse. Created by the team behind prominent international editions of both Vogue and WIRED, UNXD partners with the world’s leading luxury brands to create crypto-native way products and experiences. Each brand forms a part of an expanding ecosystem for luxury digital assets. UNXD’s pioneering collections with Dolce&Gabbana, 2021’s Collezione Genesi, and 2022’s DGFamily, have generated nearly 10,000 ETH and are widely regarded as a catalyst of the fashion NFT movement.

About Spatial
Spatial powers your world in Web3. Offering visually stunning spaces that are accessible and easy to use whether on web, mobile, or VR. In Spatial users can customize a virtual space and gather for NFT exhibitions, music performances, runway shows, lectures, live events, watch parties and more. And all it takes is a few clicks to set up your space or join. Spatial was founded in 2016 with the goal of designing high-quality 3D spaces for collaboration and community.

About OVER
OVER is a cutting-edge AR platform powered by the Ethereum Blockchain. OVER makes it possible for users provided with a mobile device or a smart glass to live interactive augmented reality experiences customized in the real world. Committed to cross-platform interoperability, OVER supports real-time augmented reality capabilities, AI avatar motion-captured interactions and hyperrealistic NFT assets which, in time, will be transmissible between Metaverses.

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GlobeNewswire Distribution ID 8708877

Sweegen announces growth capital investments and manufacturing partnership ahead of Food Ingredients Europe 2022

Momentum from global regulatory approvals and customers’ product launches drives strong valuation and investment demand.

Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., Dec. 05, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Sweegen announced its strategic investment and partnership snapshot ahead of the FI Europe 2022, where it will exhibit zero sugar solutions in immersive food experiences, displaying consumers’ favorite foods and beverages with zero sugar solutions in Paris, France, Dec. 6-8.

In the wake of the 2022 company developments of major customer launches, a growing global footprint, and regulatory approvals on its sweeteners and stevia technology, Sweegen is attracting major partners and moving forward with additional growth capital raised from current shareholders, Pasaca Capital and Sumitomo Chemical Co. (Sumitomo), reaching the “unicorn” status.

“Our growth is meaningful in the world of sweetener innovation as we are bringing wellness solutions to food and beverage brands and consumers in new global regions where sugar reduction is not only a major health trend and need but also a movement for a wellness lifestyle,” said CEO Steven Chen. “We’re grateful that these shareholders continue to have confidence in our vision to open new markets with our global regulatory plans and explore exciting wellness technologies for food and beverages.”

Largest CPG Companies as Customers

Sweegen’s Signature Bestevia® Reb M was the first new-generation stevia technology to receive approval from the European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA).

This landmark approval in 2021, combined with the approval of the regulatory framework for steviol glycosides by the international food safety authority CODEX in 2022, is opening new markets and creating significant opportunities for Sweegen’s customers to launch new products.

The world’s largest food and beverage producers, including top brands for beverage (non-alcoholic and alcoholic), condiment, dairy, and plant-based products, have entered into commitments, contracts, and purchase orders with Sweegen.

Manufacturing Alliance

With Sumitomo, Sweegen entered into a strategic alliance in which Sumitomo will contribute one of its manufacturing factories in Asia to a joint venture between the two companies.

Sumitomo will assist in quality assurance and quality control at both the Asian facility and Sweegen’s manufacturing site in Europe.

“Our manufacturing alliance with an exceptional partner like Sumitomo gives Sweegen’s customers the added security and benefit of multiple production facilities and is expected to accelerate Sweegen’s market penetration greatly,” said Chen.

New Technologies

In addition to the industry’s widest range of non-GMO better, tasting Signature stevia ingredients, Sweegen is introducing more advanced sugar-reducing products, such as the sweet proteins Ultratia™ brazzein and thaumatin.

Sweegen’s disruptive peptide technology enables industrial-scale production of brazzein for great cost savings to CPG customers. The commercialization of brazzein has already begun, and Sweegen anticipates a first regulatory approval for the product in 2023.

Thaumatin is 100,000 times sweeter than sugar on a molar basis. The high sweetness factor can translate into a strategic, cost-effective sugar reduction solution for brands seeking to get the most out of natural sweeteners. Sweegen has recently announced the successful scale-up production of these high-intensity sweeteners, and the company expects to receive regulatory approval in the near future.

The Market

The global sugar market is currently at $160 billion. Many global food and beverage companies are currently incorporating Sweegen’s products to replace artificial sweeteners, reduce sugar, and launch branded products containing these Sweegen products.

Contacts at FIE

At the FI Europe 2022 trade fair in Paris, Sweegen’s booth will be at Stand #7.1D20, where Sweegen’s management and global food and beverage applications teams will welcome all food and ingredient customers and business partners.

About Sweegen

Sweegen provides sweet-taste solutions for food and beverage manufacturers around the world.

We are on a mission to reduce sugar and artificial sweeteners in the global diet. Partnering with customers, we create delicious zero-sugar products that consumers love. With the best modern sweeteners in our portfolio, such as Bestevia® Rebs B, D, E, I, M, and N, and sweet proteins brazzein and thaumatin, along with our deep knowledge of flavor modulators and texturants, Sweegen delivers market-leading solutions that customers want, and consumers prefer. Well. Into the Future.

Forward-Looking Statements
This press release includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the “safe harbor” provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1996. Sweegen’s actual results may differ from the estimates, assumptions, and other illustrative material contained herein, and consequently, a reader should not rely on these forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. These forward-looking statements include, without limitation, illustrative information regarding Sweegen’s bottom-up assumed market potential, assumed hit rate, and the resulting revenue based on these model inputs. These forward-looking statements involve significant risks and uncertainties that could cause the actual results to differ materially from the expected results.

Industry, Market, and Other Data
In this press release, we rely on and refer to information and statistics regarding market participants in the sectors in which Sweegen competes and other data. We obtained this information and statistics from our own internal estimates and third-party sources, including reports by market research firms and company filings. We do not expressly refer to these sources. All of this information involves a number of assumptions and limitations, and the sources of such information cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information. The industry in which Sweegen operates is subject to a high degree of uncertainty and risk due to a variety of important factors, any of which could cause results to differ materially from those expressed in the estimates made by Sweegen or third parties.


Ana Arakelian, Head of Public Relations and Communications


GlobeNewswire Distribution ID 8708571

Budget deficit reduces to 0.33% of GDP

State budget deficit for 2021 has declined from 3.95 trillion kip (approx USD 228.1 m), 2.17% of GDP, to 602.4 billion kip (approx USD34.7 m), 0.33% of the country’s gross domestic product – GDP – of 184 trillion kip (10.6 billion), according to Finance Minister.
Budget spending reached 29.5 trillion kip (by March 31, 2022), equivalent to 93.4 % of the annual plan including 20.5 trillion kip by the central government and 8.9 trillion kip by provincial governments, Finance Minister Bounchome Oubonpaseuth told the ongoing 4th Ordinary Session of the National Assembly on Monday.
Revenue collection in 2021 reached 28.9 trillion kip, equivalent to 104.6 % of the annual plan, up by 26% (5.9 trillion kip) as compared to 2020 with revenues collection at central level reaching 22.76 trillion kip, or 103.3% of the plan set for 2021, and revenues collection at provincial level reaching 6.13 trillion kip, 109.4% of the annual plan.
Capital city Vientiane and nine provinces exceeded their revenue collection plans by 720 billion kip in total including 183 billion kip from Vientiane, 13.4 billion kip from Oudomxay, 43.8 billion kip from Luang Prabang, 13.09 billion kip from Huaphan, 222.3 billion kip from Xaysomboun, 2.4 billion kip from Borikhamxay, 82 billion kip from Khammuan, 31.9 billion kip from Savannakhet, 24.3 billion kip from Xekong and 104.4 billion kip from Attapeu.
Revenue collection in the first 11 months reached 28.45 trillion kip, equivalent to 90.06 % of the annual plan, up by 26% (5.8 trillion kip) year on year with domestic revenues reaching 26.6 trillion kip, or 92.03% of the annual plan, an annual rise of 29% (5.9 trillion kip).
The revenues included 23.8 trillion kip as taxes and duties, 2.7 trillion kip as non taxes and duties, and 1.79 trillion kip as international grants.
Revenue collection for 2022 is expected to reach 32.4 trillion kip, 102.7% of the annual target, or 16.88 % of GDP with domestic revenues expected to reach over 30 trillion kip, 103.6% of the annual plan.

Source: Lao News Agency

Biden Touts Advanced Chips Manufacturing in Visit to Arizona Semiconductor Plant

President Joe Biden’s visit Tuesday to a massive construction project in north Phoenix highlighted Arizona’s role in a major U.S. policy shift on semiconductor manufacturing.
The Biden administration is pushing to boost domestic chips manufacturing with more than $50 billion in subsidies in the new CHIPs and Science Act.
The president’s visit to the new fabrication facility being built by Taiwanese chips giant TSMC came as the firm announced it would build a second fabrication facility and triple its investment in Phoenix to $40 billion.
Biden says it is good news for TSMC’s biggest customer, Apple.
“These are the most advanced semiconductor chips on the planet. Chips will power iPhones and MacBooks,” Biden said. “Apple had to buy all the advanced chips from overseas. Now, they are going to bring more of their supply chain here at home. It can be a game changer.”
U.S. technology firms have long outsourced semiconductor manufacturing overseas, particularly with TSMC, the world’s largest foundry.

Calls to change that increased when the U.S. found itself scrambling for chips in the supply chain breakdowns prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recent tensions with China added to the sense of urgency. China sees Taiwan as a part of its territory, and U.S. policymakers were worried about the long-term ability to source high-end chips, essential for computers, smartphones, cars, fighter planes and data centers.
The Biden administration has been pushing to make the most cutting-edge chips in the U.S.
Ahead of Biden’s visit Tuesday, TSMC announced it would ratchet up the kind of technology it makes in Arizona beyond the 4-nanometer technology slated to begin production in 2024. In addition, TSMC said it would begin producing 3-nanometer technology in its second fabrication facility by 2026. Those advanced chips deliver faster processing and use less power.
“This state-of-the-art manufacturing facility behind us is a testimony that TSMC is also taking a giant step forward to help build a vibrant semiconductor ecosystem in the United States,” said Mark Liu, TSMC’s chairman.
The president toured the construction site and was part of the TSMC plant’s “first tool-in” ceremony, the moment when a building is ready for manufacturing equipment to move in.
The company, which had said it would hire 2,000 workers, now says it will employ 4,500.
Arizona is among the states trying to attract federal funding.
A 3,700-square-meter cleanroom at nearby Arizona State University in Tempe is helping to meet the workforce demands of Arizona’s burgeoning semiconductor sector. There, students, companies and startups work on hardware innovations.
With 30,000 engineering students, Arizona State is home to the country’s largest college of engineering and is a driver in meeting the next-generation demand.
“Chips and Science Act is a once in a lifetime opportunity. This is the moment. This is the moment to build out capabilities, infrastructure, expertise,” Kyle Squires, dean of the schools of engineering at Arizona State University, told VOA recently. “We’re bringing this capability back into the U.S. You’ve got to have a workforce ready to engage it.”

Source: Voice of America