New global alliance of special economic zones to boost development

18 May 2022
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Speakers at the GASEZ launch event

IASP is proud to announce the official launch of a new Global Alliance of Special Economic Zones (GASEZ), an initiative the UN Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD.  

IASP is one of the founding members, joining six other global, regional and national associations representing over 7,000 special economic zones (SEZs): the Africa Economic Zones Organization, the Free Trade Zones Association of the Americas, the Green Partnership for Industrial Parks in China, the National Association of Foreign-Trade Zones of the United States of America, the World Free and Special Economic Zones Federation, and the World Free Zones Organization.

SEZs go by many different names, including free-trade zones, industrial parks and innovation zones, and are widely used by developed and developing economies. In the broader landscape of SEZs, STPs/AOIs are considered key entities to support innovation and sustainable economic development.

GASEZ seeks to drive the modernization of these zones across the world and maximize their contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have been part of the core values of STPs and AOIs for many years now, highlighting their commitment to keeping pace with the challenges of a changing climate and digital transformation.

At the launch on May 17, UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said: “The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides an opportunity for special economic zones to attract investment by putting SDGs at the forefront of their value proposition. A new model of sustainable special economic zones is therefore rapidly taking shape and they are contributing to more inclusive, resilient and sustainable economies in the countries where they operate.”

The alliance pools the expertise of its members to increase collaboration between SEZs, advocate on their behalf and enhance their contributions to sustainable development. SEZs are faced with new challenges and opportunities that require them to adapt and innovate. Today’s complex, fast-paced landscape of innovation is constantly evolving, and collaboration with peers around the world is key to staying on top of the latest trends in the global knowledge economy.

IASP CEO Ebba Lund also spoke at the launch event, commenting: “IASP is honoured to form part of this Global Alliance of Special Economic Zones which was initiated by UNCTAD and we are happy to contribute and work together to drive growth and sustainable economic development at a global level.

To maximise our impact, we need to multiply the collaboration among SEZs, STPs, innovation hubs etc. throughout the world, which can best happen using existing associations and networks: the companies we serve need as much networking as they can get, because their resources are always limited (especially for SMEs and startups), and networks are formidable multipliers of resources. Establishing a line of collaboration among the associations, as this new alliance does, will help each of us to do that job better, and to improve in turn, the networking of individual economic and innovation zones.”

We look forward to sharing best practices and learning from the experiences of everyone participating in this Alliance, as we work together to advance our common goals.”

If you weren’t able to join the launch event, you can watch it here. More information about GASEZ is available at https://gasez.org/.

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