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Free Trade Zones

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Free Trade Zones

This article is about the special economic zones. For information on agreements for free international trade, see free trade area.

A free trade zone (FTZ) or export processing zone (EPZ), also called foreign-trade zone, formerly free port, is an area within which goods may be landed, handled, manufactured or reconfigured, and reexported without the intervention of the customs authorities. Only when the goods are moved to consumers within the country in which the zone is located do they become subject to the prevailing customs duties. Free-trade zones are organized around major seaports, international airports, and national frontiers—areas with many geographic advantages for trade.[1] It is a region where a group of countries has agreed to reduce or eliminate trade barriers.[2] Free trade zones can be defined as labor intensive manufacturing centers that involve the import of raw materials or components and the export of factory products. The world's first Free Trade Zone was established in Shannon, Ireland (Shannon Free Zone).[3] This was an attempt by the Irish Government to promote employment within a rural area, make use of a small regional airport and generate revenue for the Irish economy. It was hugely successful, and is still in operation today. The number of worldwide free-trade zones proliferated in the late 20th century. In the United States free-trade zones were first authorized in 1934.

Most FTZs located in developing countries: Brazil, Colombia, India, Indonesia, El Salvador, China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Madagascar have EPZ programs.[4] In 1997, 93 countries had set up export processing zones employing 22.5 million people, and five years later, in 2003, EPZs in 116 countries employed 43 million people.[4]

Corporations setting up in a zone may be given tax breaks as an incentive. Usually, these zones are set up in underdeveloped parts of the host country; the rationale is that the zones will attract employers and thus reduce poverty and unemployment, and stimulate the area's economy. These zones are often used by multinational corporations to set up factories to produce goods (such as clothing or shoes).

Free trade zones in Latin America date back to the early decades of the 20th century. The first free trade regulations in this region were enacted in Argentina and Uruguay in the 1920s. The Latin American Free Trade Association (LAFTA) was created in the 1960 Treaty of Montevideo by Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay. However, the rapid development of free trade zones across the region dates from the late 1960s and the early 1970s. Latin American Integration Association is a Latin American trade integration association, based in Montevideo.

Free Trade Zones are also known as Special Economic Zones in some countries. Special Economic Zones (SEZs) have been established in many countries as testing grounds for the implementation of liberal market economy principles. SEZs are viewed as instruments to enhance the acceptability and the credibility of the transformation policies and to attract domestic and foreign investment.

In 1999, there were 43 million people working in about 3000 FTZs spanning 116 countries producing clothes, shoes, sneakers, electronics, and toys. The basic objectives of EPZs are to enhance foreign exchange earnings, develop export-oriented industries and to generate employment opportunities.

Many in the economic development community and real estate development field have heard much about how the Foreign-Trade Zone program attracts firms of all types to FTZ designated industrial parks and property. Many Foreign-Trade Zone projects have been started with the philosophy of “establish it, and they will come”. The reality is that for FTZ Grantees to receive the economic development benefits they desire, the right choices in many areas must be made. The Foreign-Trade Zone Corporation will guide Grantees and developers so that the best choices are made so that the FTZ project maximizes its potential by attracting prospective companies as well as providing an avenue to providing the maximum benefit to existing companies in the area. One choice that Grantees are faced with is whether or not to expand a Foreign-Trade Zone or reorganize it using the Alternative Site Framework (ASF).

In January 2009, the Foreign-Trade Zones Board adopted a FTZ Board staff proposal to make what it called the Alternative Site Framework (ASF) as a means of designating and managing general-purpose FTZ sites through reorganization. The ASF provides Foreign-Trade Zone Grantees with greater flexibility to meet specific requests for zone status by utilizing the minor boundary modification process. The theory of the ASF is that by more closely linking the amount of FTZ designated space to the amount of space activated with Customs and Border Protection, Zone users would have better and quicker access to benefits. When a FTZ Grantee evaluates whether or not to expand its FTZ project in order to improve the ease in which the Zone may be utilized by existing companies, as well as how it attracts new prospective companies, the Alternative Site Framework (ASF) should be considered. The ASF may be an appropriate option for certain Foreign-Trade Zone projects, but the decision of whether to adopt the new framework and what the configuration of the sites should be will require careful analysis and planning. Regardless of the choice to expand the FTZ project, the sites should be selected and the application should be drafted in such a manner as to receive swift approval, while maximizing benefit to those that locate in the Zone. Successful zone projects are generally the result of a plan developed and implemented by individuals that understand all aspects of the FTZ program.[5]

The Foreign Trade Zone Board (FTZB) approves the reorganization of Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) 32 under the alternative site framework. The application submitted by its grantee, The Greater Miami Foreign Trade Zone was approved and officially ordered by the FTZB on January 8, 2013. From California, to Oklahoma to North Carolina to New York State, FTZs all across the nation have recently been making use of the flexible opportunities offered by the Alternative Site Framework (ASF) program. The ASF program is designed to serve zone projects that want the flexibility to both attract users/operators to certain fixed sites but also want the ability to serve companies at other locations where the demand for FTZ services arises in the future. FTZ 32 was founded in 1979 and processes over $1 billion in goods with products from more than 65 countries and exported to more than 75 countries worldwide, with speed and efficiency. According to the official order from the FTZB, FTZ 32 existing site 1, Miami Free Zone will be classified as a magnet site.[6]


Free trade zones are domestically criticized for encouraging businesses to set up operations under the influence of other governments, and for giving foreign corporations more economic liberty than is given indigenous employers who face large and sometimes insurmountable "regulatory" hurdles in developing nations[verification needed]. However, many countries are increasingly allowing local entrepreneurs to locate inside FTZs in order to access export-based incentives.[verification needed]. Because the multinational corporation is able to choose between a wide range of underdeveloped or depressed nations in setting up overseas factories, and most of these countries do not have limited governments, bidding wars (or 'races to the bottom') sometimes erupt between competing governments .[7]

Sometimes the domestic government pays part of the initial cost of factory setup, loosens environmental protections and rules regarding negligence and the treatment of workers, and promises not to ask payment of taxes for the next few years. When the taxation-free years are over, the corporation that set up the factory without fully assuming its costs is often able to set up operations elsewhere for less expense than the taxes to be paid, giving it leverage to take the host government to the bargaining table with more demands, but parent companies in the United States are rarely held accountable.[8]

The widespread use of free trade zones by companies such as Nike has received criticism from numerous writers such as Naomi Klein in her book No Logo.

List of free trade zones


  1. Alexandria Public free Zone
  2. Nasr City Public Free Zone
  3. Port Said Public Free Zone
  4. Suez Public Free Zone
  5. Ismailia Public Free Zone
  6. Damietta Public Free Zone
  7. Shebin El Kom Public Free Zone.
  8. Keft Public Free Zone
  9. Media Production City Free Zone.


  • FTZ 281-4 - Miami, FL (USA)
  • Miami Free Zone - FTZ #32 - Miami, FL (USA)
  • Zona Franca del Pacifico - Cali-Palmira, Colombia
  • Zonamerica Business & Technology Park - Uruguay[12]
  • WTC Free Zone (WTC Free Zone S.A.)-Uruguay[13]
  • Aguada Park (Itsen S.A.)-Uruguay[14]
  • Zona Franca UPM (UPM Fray Bentos S.A.)-Uruguay[15]
  • Zona Franca de Colonia (Grupo Continental S.A.)-Uruguay[16]
  • Zona Franca Colonia Suiza (Colonia Suiza S.A.)-Uruguay[17]
  • Zona Franca Floridasur (Florida S.A.)-Uruguay[18]
  • Zona Franca Libertad (Lideral S.A.)-Uruguay[18]
  • Zona Franca Nueva Palmira (Nueva Palmira)-Uruguay
  • Zona Franca Río Negro (Río Negro S.A.)-Uruguay[19]
  • Zona Franca Rivera (Rivera)-Uruguay
  • Parque de las Ciencias (Parque de las Ciencias S.A.)-Uruguay[20]
  • Colon Free Trade Zone -Republic of Panama
  • Zona Franca de Manaus - Brazil
  • Bataguassu - MS, Brazil
  • Freeport, Grand Bahama - Bahamas
  • Maquiladoras - Mexico
  • Las Mercedes Industrial Free Zone - Managua, Nicaragua
  • Ciudad del Este - Paraguay
  • Zona Franca Industrial La Palma LTD - Santiago, Republica Dominicana.
  • CentrePort Canada - Manitoba, Canada
  • San Luis Potosí - Mexico
  • Chattanooga - TN, USA
  • Deere-Hitachi Construction Machinery Corporation - Kernersville NC, USA
  • North American Free Trade Agreement - U.S., Mexico, Canada
  • Smyrna - TN, USA
  • Greater Kansas City Foreign Trade Zone, Inc. - FTZ # 15 - Kansas City MO, USA
  • St. Louis County Port Authority - FTZ # 102 - St. Louis MO, USA
  • City of Springfield - FTZ # 225 - Springfield MO, USA
  • Port of Houston - FTZ # 84 - Houston TX, USA [21]

East Asia

Southeast Asia (ASEAN) Free Trade Zones

  1. Melaka Batu Berendam FTZ (Texas Instrument, Dominant Semiconductor, Panasonic) The largest and still more vacancy refer to MITI for application
  2. Sungai Way FTZ (Western Digital, Free Scale, etc.)
  3. Hulu Klang FTZ (Statchippac, Texas Instrument)
  4. Teluk Panglima Garang FTZ (Toshiba, etc.)

Agro-Industrial Economic Zones in the Philppines

Name Location Developer/Operator Region Area (Hectares)
Agrotex Gensan Economic Zone "Barrio Tambler, General Santos City" "Agrotex Commodities, Inc." R-XII 11
AJMR Agro-Industrial Economic Zone "AJMR Port Complex, Km. 20 Tibungco, Davao City" AJMR Port Services Corporation R-XI 8.96
Balo-i Agro-Industrial Economic Zone "Barangay Maria Cristina, Baloi, Lanao del Norte" Balo-i Industrial. Inc. R-X 13.9
Carmen Cebu Gum Industrial Zone "Cogon West, Carmen, Cebu City" Pacific Poly Gums Holdings Corporation R-VII 7.6
CIIF Agro-Industrial Park - Davao "KM 9.5, Barangay Sasa, Davao City" "CIIF Agro-Industrial Park, Inc." R-XI 8.54
DADC Economic Zone "Barangay Darong, Municipality of Santa Cruz, Province of Davao del Sur" Darong Agricultural and Development Corp. R-XI 15
Ecofuel Agro-Industrial Ecozone "Sta. Filomena, San Mariano, Isabela" "Ecofuel Land Development, Inc." R-II 24
Kamanga Agro-Industrial Economic Zone "Brgy. Kamanga, Municipality of Maasim, Province of Sarangani" Kamanga Agro-Industrial Ecozone Development Corporation R-XII 54.6
New Jubilee Agro-Industrial Economic Zone "Barangay Hilapnitan, Municipality of Baybay, Province of Leyte" "New Jubilee International Holdings, Inc." R-VIII 4.98
Philippine Packing Agricultural Export Processing Zone "Bugo, Cagayan de Oro City" Philippine Packing Management Services Corporation R-X 27
Samar Agro-Industrial Economic Zone "Barangay Malajog, Tinambacan District, Calbayog City, Western Samar" Hi Best Property Developer Corporation R-VIII 7.26
San Carlos Ecozone "Palampas and Punao, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental" "San Julio Reality, Inc." R-VII 25.79
Sarangani Agro-Industrial Eco Zone "Municipality of Alabel, Province of Sarangani" Alsons Development & Investment Corporation R-XII 317.24
Sarangani Economic Development Zone "Cannery, Polomolok, South Cotabato" Sarangani Resources Corporation R-XII 72.87
SRC Allah Valley Economic Development Zone "Tubi-allah, Surallah, South Cotabato" Sarangani Resources Corporation R-XII 56.1
SRC Calumpang Economic Development Zone "Calumpang, General Santos City" Sarangani Resources Corporation R-XII 18.67
Valencia Special Economic Zone "Barangay Palinpinon, Municipality of Valencia, Province of Negros Oriental" "Municipal Government of Valencia, Negros Oriental" R-VII 4.33

Freeports or Special Economic Zones in the Philippines

Economic Zone Address Location
Aurora Pacific Economic Zone[22] Casiguran, Aurora Luzon
Cagayan Special Economic Zone[23] Lal-lo, Cagayan Luzon
Freeport Area of Bataan Mariveles, Bataan Luzon
Cavite Economic Zone Rosario, Cavite and General Trias, Cavite Luzon
Clark Freeport Zone Angeles City and Mabalacat City, Pampanga Luzon
Subic Bay Freeport Zone Olongapo City and Subic, Zambales Luzon
Poro Point Freeport Zone[24] La Union Luzon
Baguio City Economic Zone Baguio City Luzon

SEE List of Economic Zones in the Philippines

South Asia

The largest multi-product Free trade and warehousing infrastructure in India. Arshiya's first 165 acre FTWZ is operational in Panvel, Mumbai, and is to be followed by one in Khurja near Delhi. Arshiya's Mega Logistics Hub at Khurja to have 135 acre FTWZ, 130 acre Industrial and Distribution Hub (Distripark) & 50 acre Rail siding. Arshiya International will be developing three more Free Trade and Warehousing zones in Central, South and East of India.

  • Kandlar Trade Free Zone, India
  • Cochin SEZ is a Special Economic Zone in Cochin, in the State of Kerala in southwest India, set up for export- oriented ventures. The Special Economic Zone is a foreign territory within India with special rules for facilitating foreign direct investment. The Zone is run directly by the Government of India.

Cochin SEZ is a multi-product Zone. Cochin is strategically located. It is in southwest India, just 11 nautical miles off the international sea route from Europe to the Pacific Rim. Cochin is being developed by the Dubai Ports International as a container transhipment terminal with direct sailings to important markets of the world, which could position it as Hub for South Asia.


Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority


According to the Kenya EPZ Authority the aim of the program is "to transform the economy from import subsitution to a path of export led growth". "EPZs are designed to further integrate Kenya into the global supply chain and attract export-oriented investments in the zones, thus achieving its economic objectives of job creation, diversification and expansion of exports, increase in productive investments, technology transfer and creation of backward linkages between the zones and the domestic economy"."The program has contributed significantly to achieving these objectives with over 40 zones in place, close to 40,000 workers employed and contribution of 10.7 % of national exports. Over 70% of EPZ output is exported to the USA under AGOA".[26] These include:

  • Al-borj Kenya EPZ Ltd
  • Alltex EPZ Ltd
  • Apex Apparels EPZ Ltd
  • Ashton Apparel EPZ Ltd.
  • Baraka Apparel EPZ Ltd
  • Blue Bird Garments (K) EPZ Ltd
  • Blue Sky Films EPZ Ltd
  • California Link EPZ Ltd
  • Cybel Agric EPZ Ltd
  • De La Rue Currency & Security print EPZ Ltd
  • E.A. Gas EPZ Ltd
  • E.A Molasses EPZ Ltd
  • Earth Oil Kenya Proprietary EPZ Ltd
  • ET Elasto Tech EPZ Ltd
  • Film Studios EPZ Ltd.
  • Forum International EPZ Ltd.
  • Friends & Partners EPZ Ltd
  • Global Apparels (K) EPZ Ltd
  • Indu Farm EPZ Ltd.
  • Insight Digital Graphics EPZ Ltd.
  • Insta Products EPZ Ltd
  • Ivee Aqua EPZ Ltd.
  • Kenya Marine Contractors EPZ Ltd.
  • Kenya Vegext EPZ Ltd
  • Kevroe Plastics EPZ Ltd
  • LNC Apparels (K) EPZ Ltd
  • Logistic Container Center Mombasa EPZ Ltd.
  • Maximus EPZ Ltd
  • Mega Garments Industries (K) EPZ Ltd
  • JAR Kenya EPZ Ltd
  • Kapric Apparels EPZ Ltd.
  • Kencall EPZ Ltd
  • Kenya Fluorspar EP Ltd
  • Kenya Knit Garment EPZ Ltd
  • Middle East Texaco EPZ Ltd
  • Mirage Fashion Wear EPZ Ltd
  • MRC Nairobi EPZ Ltd.
  • Newland EPZ Ltd
  • Nodor Kenya EPZ Ltd.
  • Norbrook Africa EPZ Ltd.
  • Nutro Manufacturing EPZ Ltd
  • Oil Tanking EPZ Ltd
  • Penguin Paper & Book Co. EPZ Ltd
  • Plastex EPZ Ltd
  • Plastic Compounders EPZ Ltd.
  • Pontact Productions EPZ Ltd
  • Premium Machinery Distributors EPZ Ltd.
  • Protex EPZ Ltd.
  • Rising Sun (K) EPZ Lt
  • Rolex Garments EPZ Ltd.
  • Rosavie EPZ Ltd
  • Rupa Cotton Mills EPZ Ltd.
  • Sahara Stitch EPZ Ltd
  • Senior Best Garment EPZ Ltd
  • Shipmarc EPZ Ltd.
  • Shin Ace Garments (EPZ Ltd.
  • Sin Lane (K) EPZ Ltd
  • Sinolink Kenya Garments Manufacturing EPZ Ltd
  • Supreme Plastics (Africa) EPZ Ltd
  • Tex Care Africa EPZ Ltd.
  • Twin Leaves EPZ Ltd.
  • United Aryan EPZ Ltd.
  • Upan Wasana EPZ Ltd
  • Wildlife Works EPZ Ltd
  • YKK Kenya EPZ Ltd

Middle East


See also


es:Zona de Libre Comercio ru:Свободная экономическая зона tr:Serbest Bölge

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