Special economic zones are an instrument widely used to stimulate growth, create jobs, promote exports, diversify economies, and build productive capacity. In 2019, UNCTAD undertook a global review of SEZs in its World Investment Report to assess the impact of 6,000 SEZs (plus an additional 1,000 science and innovation parks) as policy instruments and examined their potential contributions to sustainable development at the national and global level. In the past few years UNCTAD has also started a number of technical assistance activities related to SEZs.
As we enter a new era of global economy, SEZs are faced with a myriad of challenges and opportunities arising from the triple mega-drivers: the new industrial revolution, the sustainability imperative and the realignment of global economic governance. Mobilizing global support for SEZs and their endeavour to attract investment for sustainable development requires a concerted effort by the SEZ community. It is only collectively that the SEZ community can be effective in modernization and policy advocacy; and bring on board all stakeholders, including governments, the private sector, the international community and, foremost, the managers and administrators of SEZs.
Areas of orientation for working together through GASEZ include:
- Global networking to facilitate cross-board and cross-industry collaboration in trade and investment promotion and facilitation for achieving the SDGs.
- Collective policy advocacy for sound enabling frameworks for SEZs at national, regional and global levels.
- Peer learning through exchange of experiences and best practices, including through the World Investment Forum and other forums.
- Joint programmes for modernizing SEZs and building SDG model zones.
UNCTAD and SEZ associations worldwide are initiating the establishment of GASEZ. Modalities for the functioning of the Alliance will be further discussed with a view to formally launch GASEZ in 2022. The UNCTAD secretariat will facilitate meetings and activities of GASEZ in the inception stage.
The following institutions support the GASEZ initiative:
- UNCTAD, Geneva, Switzerland
- Africa Economic Zones Organization (AEZO), Tangier, Morocco
- Association of Clusters, Technology Parks and SEZs of Russia (AKTI), Moscow, Russia
- Free Trade Zones Association of the Americas (AFZA), Bogota, Colombia
- International Association of Science Parks (IASP), Malaga, Spain
- National Association of Free Trade Zones (NAFTZ), Washington D.C., USA
- Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), Pasay City, Philippines
- World Free and Special Economic Zones Federation (FEMOZA), Barcelona, Spain
- World Free Zones Organization (WFZO), Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Issues to be addressed
- Official launch of GASEZ for the global SEZs community