Dubai: The Dubai government is funding a non-profit entity that will lobby governments on behalf of special economic zones worldwide.
The World Free Zones Organisation (World FZO), launched in Dubai on Monday, will be responsible for implementing industry standardisation and best practices and protecting the interests of economic zones, according to P.C. Nambiar, secretary and a founding member.
A special economic zone is an area exempt of taxes and other regulations to spur economic growth.
Nambiar added that the Dubai government has committed to funding the organisation for three years after which it will rely on membership fees and service charges.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of the Dubai, launched the organisation, which is a Dubai government initiative and headquartered in the Dubai Airport Free Zone (Dafza).
Human development charter
Nambiar said that the World FZO will seek to eliminate slavery and cheap labour from special economic zones as part of its human development charter.
The World FZO 14 founding members represent associations and free zones from the UAE, Africa, Europe, India, China and North and South America. Its Chairperson is Mohammad Al Zarooni, who is also the Director General of DAFZA.
Al Zarooni said the World FZO will assist special economic zones in becoming more efficient. The organisation will conduct lengthy market analysis that will be available to members as well as to governments, companies and individuals with interests in special economic zones.
Membership is open to all member states of the United Nations and international multilateral organisations such as the World Trade Organisation. It is also open to individuals and entities working in free zone environments. However, full membership and voting rights will only be granted to individual free zones and free zone associations.
It took around three years for the World FZO to be established, according to Al Zarooni, who lobbied special economic zones to gain interest in the organisation.
Dubai could be hoping to set the standards in what Al Zarooni called ethical business. Dubai has 22 special economic zones across the emirate, including Jebel Ali, which was established in 1980.
Al Zarooni said that the organisation has been established because previously there was no channel for free zones to communicate.
He added that the World FZO will provide a platform for special economic zones to 'discuss concerns and learn from each others experiences.