KINGSTON, Jamaica, TGO: The World Free Zones Organisation (World FZO) announced the Global Alliance for Special Economic Zones Conference (GASEZ) at its eighth Annual International Conference (AICE), that is taking place in Montego Bay, St. James, Jamaica till 17th June.
The event features world-class speakers, senior policymakers, academics, multilateral organisations, and global business leaders from over 100 countries.
The first annual GASEZ was launched under the theme ‘Zones, your partner for Resilience, Sustainability, and Prosperity,’ in partnership with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
The official launch took place at a signing ceremony during AICE, in the presence of Andrew Michael Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica; Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni, Chairman, World FZO; and the other founding members of GASEZ. The members of the alliance include UNCTAD; World Free Zones Organisation (WFZO); Africa Economic Zones Organisation (AEZO); Free Trade Zones Association of the Americas (AFZA); International Association of Science Parks (IASP); National Association of Free Trade Zones (NAFTZ); Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and the World Free and Special Economic Zones Federation (FEMOZA).
The alliance aims to address the most prominent and emerging issues related to the special economic zones and highlights the role of partnerships in enabling the exchange of experiences in the post-pandemic recovery phase. The alliance also seeks to develop global partnerships to facilitate cross-border and cross-sectoral cooperation in the areas of trade, investments and achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It also helps in promoting policies to develop frameworks to enable special economic zones at the local, regional and global levels.
GASEZ supports organisations to exchange experiences and best practices between leading experts from the World Investment Forum and others. It is also a platform to launch programmes for the development of special economic zones and building model free zones for sustainable development goals.
Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni said, “The World Free Zones Organisation reaffirms its commitment to support the development of free zones across the world. Today, we took part in launching the Global Alliance for Special Economic Zones. This partnership strengthens the platforms we provide to shape the future of collaborations between financial institutions, Special Economic Zones developers, governments, and investment promotion agencies. These initiatives aim to develop and create opportunities for regional and global partnerships, which is pivotal for the sustainable growth of free zones.”
“Over the last decade, we have witnessed significant growth in the number and size of free zones. Today, there are more than 7,000 free zones around the world. We also have more than 100 million people working in free zones across many countries and regions. This shows the significance of this sector and its contribution to the growth of the global economy, especially for the post-pandemic period,” he added.
Dr. James Zhan, Director, Investment and Enterprise Division, UNCTAD, said, “Global threats require strong and innovative partnerships. This alliance will enable us to bring together the resources and expertise of eight founding members of the GASEZ towards one goal, which aims to revitalise the existing zones and advance a new generation of special economic zones that contribute to sustainable development.”
The first day of AICE 2022 started with opening speeches from Dr. James Zhan; Dr. Samir Hamrouni, CEO, World Free Zones Organisation and Co-Chair of GASEZ, UAE, as well as Dr. Horace Chang, Deputy Prime Minister, Jamaica, among others.
The first day also included three panel discussions highlighting the emerging issues for SEZ policy advocacy, SDG Model Zones and working together to facilitate investment for recovery. It also included three special sessions about doing business with UK Freeports, doing business with US Foreign Trade Zone and Zone Management Systems.