…… Signs Strategic Agreement with UNIDO to Enhance Global Investment and Expand Trade Links
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, at the launch of World Free Zones Organisation, a Dubai Government Initative.
The World Free Zones Organization was recently launched in Dubai. The launching ceremony which took place at the ballroom of Jumeiral Emirate Towers was conducted in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Though the Organization was conceived and registered in Geneva, Switzerland, it now has its headquarters housed at the Dubai Airport Free Zone.
The new non-profit entity aims to transform the way in which many economies around the world operate their Free Trade Zones (FTZs) and Special Economic Zones (SEZs). The Organization kicked off with fourteen (14) members on its Board. A Nigerian, Chris Okwudili Ndibe was elected the Board Member representing Africa.
Executives on the Board of Directors include: Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni, Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Silicon Authority as the Chairman; Louis Pellerano (Dommican Republican), as the Vice Chairman; P.C. Nambiar (India), as Secretary; and Rose Hynes (Ireland) as the treasurer. Dr. Samir Hamrouni is the CEO of the Organization. The Board Members were elected by the founding members who met in Dubai in January this year.
It is expected that 50% Free Trade Zones, Special Economic Zones and Free Trade Areas worldwide will join the Organization by the end of 2014, through their regional Associations like Africa Free Zones Association (AFZA). During the Launch Ceremony the World FZO Chairman, Dr. Mohammmed Al Zarooni said that the newly launched entity will promote a spirit of collaboration dialogue and guidance, adding that it will provide assistance to the respective nations, so that they can benefit from the Free Zone model especially those whose economies require Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to be strong, robust and diverse economies for the future.
The World FZO is open to all member nations of the United Nations and Comprises representatives of established Free Zones as well as Local, regional and international Free Zone Associations from across the world. The launch Ceremony was well attended by government officials, diplomats, members and other dignitaries from the private sector.
The free zone concept, in many forms, has gained popularity over the last few decades, particularly in the emerging economies of Asia, the Middle East and Africa, but there have been little efforts to create a forum that would bring these diverse Free Zones together in order to exchange views, experience and knowledge and to ensure sustainability and the continuous success of the free zone model. In many countries free zones have been unable to deliver the objectives expected from them, for a variety of reasons. However, in many other countries such as the USA, UAE, Korea, China and some Asian and South American countries, some of the Free Zone has been extremely successful, as an instrument that promotes the growth of FDIs. It is a known fact that Dubai and the UAE in general has positioned itself as a major player in the world economy, especially towards the run up to Expo 2020 that has whetted the appetites of foreign investors to the country, in readiness for the mega world event.
Free Zones – understood as geographical areas, within a country, which enjoy preferential treatment in tariffs, taxes and exchange – are currently in force in the context of globalization and the establishment and development of free trade agreements. The role of these zones as exemplars of modern infrastructure, as creators of employment opportunities, and as integrators of services, logistics and transport networks should be highlighted, and their ability and image (through services and facilities) improved.
Although World Free Zones have played an important role in the economies of many countries, they lack a strong and unifying international network or association to bring them together, share their achievements and support their continuous positive development, both in policy and administration.
In the past, organizations have been formed to highlight Free Zone around the world. However, these organizations, while serving a need for information sharing, are not systematic in describing the zone benefits that provide truly global incentives for production and new employment; that address the need for innovation and responsible conduct by free zones authorities. Here lies the need to start a new organization founded on these global principles with the purpose and the means to develop the positive growth message that free zones have to offer throughout the world.
An entity that will:
- Facilitate the sharing of experience and best practice, both what is going on and what could be done in free zones.
•Educate free zone professionals concerning ideas, trends and implementation of free zones
•Provide technical support, guidance and education/training for free zone authorities, operators and users;
•Became a global library of resources for free zone promotion, administration and development;
•Support research and analysis of free zones in:
– Bilateral regional and global trade expansion
– Economic justifications for zones and effectives zone benefits
– Administration of free zones and rule of law
– Best practice in zone administration
Executive of Board Members at press briefing
This global association is guided by the principles of:
1) Rule of Law:- Believing that one of the objectives is to ensure that its members abide by accepted and ethnical norms of business and do not engage in unlawful activities
2) Compliance with Trade Rules: – The Concept of Free Zones is consistent with international trade agreements and will assure that zone development continues to comfort with those rules.
3) Private and Public Sector Involvement: – Our profound knowledge of international best practices in the development of FZs will be transferred into the project.
4) Quality: – Focusing on establishing global standard for best practices and governance and on monitoring free zones.
Social and Human Development: – The human resources used by free zones and the housed companies are a key element in the improvement of the image and quality of free zones.
Dr. Al Zarooni noted that the WFZO is unique in that it expands the knowledge base economic development officials, professional, economists and trade negotiators, and makes it possible for more effective agreements to take place, which ultimately expands trade to benefit world consumers as well as producers.
The UAE has been a shining example of the dynamic role free zones play in economic and social development and its diversity and vibrancy as a business hub has put the country on the world map. The UAE boost of one of the best infrastructure and has been very conducive for investors to set-up business, particularly because of its investor’s friendly legislation, open-door policy and no red-tape bureaucracy involved.
Mr. Chris Ndibe, the Executive Secretary of Africa Free Zones Association (AFZA) and former General Manager of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) who was appointed the Director representing Africa at the World Free Zones Organisation expressed his happiness to the recent development of having a world body duly registered in Geneva and has understanding with multilateral agencies like World Bank, WCO, WTO, UNIDO etc. AFZA members will surely benefit from the affiliation.
Following the successful global launch and unveiling, the entity announced the signing of a strategic memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), for the promotion of inclusive and sustainable industrial development. The MoU – which was signed by World FZO Chairman of the Board of Directors Dr. Mohammed Alzarooni and Dr. Mohammed Lamine Dhaoui, Director of PTC/BIT at UNIDO – sets out to enhance global investment and expand trade.
During the signing of the MoU, Chairperson Dr. Mohammed Alzarooni said: “We are pleased to be collaborating with UNIDO to further enhance our knowledge and to work together to help build strong, robust and diverse economies for the future, as well as educating the general public about the benefits of the free zone concept.”
Dr. Mohammed Lamine Dhaoui from UNIDO said: “UNIDO’s mandate is to promote and accelerate inclusive and sustainable industrial development in developing countries and economies in transition, and this agreement will enable both parties to achieve our mutual goals. We will also work on promoting domestic investment for leveraging Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). It is a pleasure to be collaborating with the first multilateral organization based out of the United Arab Emirates.”