Nigeria: OGFZA to lower tarriffs; new FTZs planned

March 2017: Nigeria’s Oil & Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA) has announced it plans to reduce tariffs for foreign companies investing in Nigeria’s petrochemical-focused free zones, in order to assuage concerns of investors who have been affected by the oil market downturn. Nigeria is notable as the world’s leader in oil & gas free zones and, in particular, offshore free zones.

OGFZA Managing Director Umana Okun Umana also recently announced the addition of three new onshore free zones in Ibaka, Ibeno, and Ikot Abasi, in the oil-rich southeastern Akwa Ibom state. ONNE Free Zone is at present the largest of Nigeria’s free zones under OGFZA oversight.

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Canada: Saint John, New Brunswick could host first FTZ

March 2017: Canada’s CBC reported 14 March, 2017 that a new free trade zone could be in the works in Saint John, New Brunswick, on the country’s east coast. Canada recently passed new legislation to create the framework for a free zone programme, and the area’s regional economic development commission, Enterprise Saint John, is spearheading a push to develop and operate a free trade zone. The zone would host manufacturers as well as warehousing services, all exempt from Canada’s normal customs duties.

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Brunei: Sultan indicates desire for new FTZ

March 2017: MalaysianDigest.com reported in early March 2017 that the Sultan of Brunei expressed a will to build the small island nation’s first free-trade zone. The Sultan’s long-term economic plan involves turning Brunei into a trade and logistics hub for Southeast Asia, similar to the Singapore model. The free-trade zone could help attract foreign direct investment and build up the country’s manufacturing economy. The country is presently an exporter of oil and gas with a generous welfare state, and plans to diversify into higher value-added industries.

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China: Tianjin Dongjiang FTZ sees export surge

China Daily reported 22 February 2017 that the Tianjin Dongjiang Free Trade Port Zone has seen increased investment and an “export surge” in 2016, with inflows coming from foreign companies and export-oriented Chinese firms. The FTZ in the northeastern port city of Tianjin saw a 30% year-over-year increase in exports.

China Daily reported that 588 foreign enterprises had set up in the zone in 2016, marking a 51% increase in occupancy and a 29% increase in total capital.

“The inflow of qualified capital from home and abroad, is a testament to the attraction of an open, friendly and innovative business environment,” Zhou Mi, senior research fellow at Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, under the Ministry of Commerce, was quoted as saying in the article.

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Oman: Sohar adds Food Zone, optimistic for 2017

February 2017: SOHAR Port & Free Zone in Sohar, Oman, located midway between Oman’s capital Muscat and Dubai, announced that its total throughput increased positively in 2017 despite a global downturn in maritime trade, and predicts positive growth in 2017 on the back of a new Food Zone, aimed at addressing Oman’s and fellow Gulf Cooperation Council countries’ long-term food industry security, and a second phase of the free zone, with new deep water berths added along with new industrial capacity.

“SOHAR Port South is a significant land reclamation area, currently under construction, designed to accommodate new industrial projects that will be announced soon. The project will include new, deep-water berths to the south of the existing port area. It will give a substantial boost to the Sultanate’s diversification efforts, aimed to increase the contribution of non-oil sectors to GDP,” CEO Mark Geilenkirchen was quoted as saying in SOHAR’s publication.

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China: Guangdong Pilot FTZ courts investors

March 2017: The Guangdong Pilot Free Trade Zone in the port city of Guangzhou in southwestern Guangdong province is courting multinationals to invest, highlighting the city’s strong presence of Fortune 500 companies, among them Cisco Systems, as well as excellent logistical connections with Hong Kong and Macau. The free zone saw 1,757 new companies come on board in 2016, a growth in occupancy of 23%.

According to the zones leadership, Guangdong Pilot FTZ “has implemented a series of innovative measures like foreign investment negative list management, cross-border RMB business innovation, financial exchange innovation, shipping logistics industry innovation, deep economic cooperation between HK, Macao and Guangzhou, trade facilitation, government service optimization etc. This area has become the new engine of economic growth, transforming and upgrading as it is forged into a high level “opening-up” gateway hub.”

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Nigeria: A colossal deep sea port & free zone

February 2017: African Business (AB) magazine reported in 6 February 2017 that the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority has approved a new free zone in Badagry, a coastal port town in southwestern Lagos state. The zone is to be developed by Netherlands-based international container company APM Terminals, which is owned by Maersk Group, in coordination with a Nigerian private sector group.

The Badagry Port & Free Zone has announced a soft launch date of January 2018. The greenfield port and free zone aim to be “the largest deep sea port in Africa upon its completion,” AB quoted Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode as saying. AB points out that “in its initial stage, it will be twice the size of Apapa, which is the current main container terminal serving Lagos, with annual handling capacity of 1.8m TEU, or standard sized containers, a year.”

The free zone will serve businesses operating light industries such as garment manufacturing, light vehicle assembly, value added assembly of electronics, plastic production, food stuffs, and others.

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USA: Virginia to expand FTZ

December 2016: JOC.com reported on 5 December that a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) near the Port of Virginia will be expanded into North Carolina, with the goal of attracting new shippers and new investors and bringing employment to the region.  “This is an incentive that can be used to attract business to the port and investment and jobs to locations within the FTZ,” John Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority, was quoted as saying by JOC.com. “The benefits of the FTZ can be significant, and this decision opens the door in northeast North Carolina to those benefits.”

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UAE & China: Sharjah investment board makes pitch to Chinese entrepreneurs

December 2016: At China’s Free Trade and Special Economic Zone Summit (7-8 December 2016, Shanghai), Invest in Sharjah, the emirate’s official FDI board, presented on key opportunities for Chinese entrepreneurs, noting its ideal location as a logistics hubs for westbound trade. “As the perfect hub between east and west, Sharjah can offer a special strategic focus on the four key sectors of Tourism and Leisure, Healthcare, Transport and Logistics and Real Estate and the Environment,” Mohammed Al Musharrkh, Director of the Sharjah FDI office (Invest in Sharjah), was quoted as saying in Berkshire Hathaway’s BusinessWire news and press release service.

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Poland: New projects in Katowice SEZ

December 2016: Eurobuild reported in December 2016 that “Permits have been issued for seven new investment projects with a value in excess of PLN 320 mln [$77.3 million USD]  involving the creation of 235 new jobs, to be set up in the Katowice Special Economic Zone” in automotives, plastics, and construction.  Katowice, part of Poland’s successful 14 zones-strong SEZ programme, is an automotive-focused zone sitting on nearly 2500 hectares of land in the southern Katowice province, near Poland’s second-largest city Krakow.

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China: 7 New FTZs in Western Provinces

The government of the People’s Republic of China announced in September 2016 its intention to authorise 7 new free trade zones (FTZs) in its western provinces. Much of Chinese industry and its financial markets are centered on the east coast, and this move represents a push to economically integrate the west and make it a trading frontier along the Belt & Road.

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Uzbekistan: FEZs regime standardised

A decree by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has standardised the names and fiscal regimes of Uzbekistan’s three free economic zones (FEZs) in Navoi, Angren/Tashkent, and Jizzakh, according to Trend News Agency.  The zones will offer standard customs incentives, including tax exemptions ranging 3-7 years depending on the size of investment. Uzbekistan’s chief exports include automotive parts, refined petroleum, agricultural products, and medical products, with China and Switzerland its largest export markets.

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China: Sichuan FTZ open for business

The Sichuan Free Trade Zone in China’s Western Sichuan province has approved licenses for more than 10,000 foreign businesses, according to China’s CCTV news media. It is one of seven new free trade zones approved in western China, whose goal is to create industrial jobs and attract FDI to the underdeveloped but mineral-rich provinces there, and grow exports to Central Asia and Europe along the Belt & Road.

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Uganda: New FZ programme underway

The Uganda Free Zone Authority has highlighted opportunities for foreign firms to invest in its new pilot special economic zone in Kaweweka, Nakaseke District, principally in agricultural goods but also in light industries, food processing, and trading activities. Turkey’s ASB Group is making a $600 million investment in developing Ugandan free zones, paralleling programmes adopted over the past two decades by neighbours like Tanzania and Rwanda. Target figures are $1 billion in FDI and $4 billion in annual exports. The first zone is likely to become operational in 2017.

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Nigeria: LADOL wins ‘Most Improved Value Joint Award’

At the recent October 2016 Nigeria Content Exhibition, LADOL Free Zone was given the ‘Most Improved Value Joint Award’ by Shell Nigeria. The offshore oil and gas logistics and FPSO production free zone has been a job creator, investment attractor, and infrastructure developer despite the oil prices-related downturn in Nigeria’s economy.

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Oman: Sohar Port & FZ wins awards

Oman’s Sohar Port & Freezone won two prestigious awards in October.  FDI Magazine of the UK Financial Times group bestowed it with the Free Zones of Year Award, and went on to win the Maritime Standard’s Port of the Year Award on 24 October 2016.  The deep-sea port and 4,500 hectare free zone has attracted more than $25 billion in investments, according to its official webpage.  The free zone, which also specialises in logistics and metal industries, is one of a few petrochemical-focused zones still experiencing growth in the new oil market, and will be connected with the 67,000 km international Gulf Railway currently under development.

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UAE: Jafza, Investe Sao Paolo sign memorandum of understanding

Dubai’s Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) and maritime trade leader DP World signed a memorandum of understanding with Brazil’s Investe Sao Paolo investment board, with an eye to increasing the presence and competitiveness of Brazilian businesses in the United Arab Emirates and giving them access to key markets that DP World and Jafza serve.

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Oman: Government updating free zone incentives

Thomas Reuters Zawya news service reported Oman is updating its existing incentives for free zones, including 100% foreign ownership, a common free zone incentive which did not exist previously in the sultanate, where 35% holding by a local firm was required. Zawya quoted Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman Said bin Saleh Al Kiyumi on changing the incentives to attract fresh investment: “The Sultanate is fully aware of the cutthroat competition in the market to attract investments. It also realises that the progress made in this area is closely linked to the incentives and facilities provided to investors.”

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Iran: Kish Free Zone taking advantage of tourism boom

The Kish Free Zone in Iran, a tourism-centered free zone on Kish Island in Iran’s Hormozgan province, has benefitted from the substantial uptick in tourism following Iran’s nuclear accord with the P5+1. Tourism in Iran is projected to have increased some 250% year-over-year, and investment in Kish has seen a surge as a result.  Kish Island hosts high-end shopping malls and seaside resorts. Commercial tourism and shopping, water and eco-tourism are the primary draws of Kish Island, which is located a short flight away from Tehran and Dubai.

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Myanmar: Thilawa SEZ Plot B under construction

Eleven Myanmar news agency has reported that Plot B of Myanmar’s Thilawa SEZ will begin the construction phase in the finals months of 2016. Thilawa is the country’s first SEZ, and has enjoyed rapid growth since its inauguration in September 2015. Eleven reports that the SEZ’s Site A enjoys a 95% occupancy rate and has attracted $880 million in investment from a total of 68 foreign firms.

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Nigeria: Dangote invests in oil & gas pipeline with Lekki Free Zone

Venture Africa reported 26 October 2016 that Africa’s wealthiest person, Nigerian businessman Aliko Dakote, has targeted 6 new investments in Nigeria, among which is a $3 billion dollar gas pipeline project which would utilise Lekki Free Zone. Lekki FZ has been marketed as a ‘Dubai of West Africa’, and Nigerian government authorities have often repeated that it is to be a major driver of Nigeria’s economy in years to come. The Guardian reported recently that the government of Lagos state, where Lekki FZ has located, is pushing for investors in the zone to engage in more Corporate Social Responsibility programmes and outreach to local communities.

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Pakistan: Gwadar Port & Free Zone begin CPEC activities

The first shipments originating from China as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) left Gwadar Port on Pakistan’s coastal southwest in November, marking a new phase in Sino-Pakistani trade relations.  CPEC is a $50 billion project aimed at developing Pakistan’s energy sector, manufacturing capacity, and infrastructure, making it a major hub of trade in the broader scheme of China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative.  China has invested heavily in Gwadar port and free zone, and in transport infrastructure linking Gwadar to Pakistan’s interior and the border with China.

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Congo: New port & SEZ to be built in Pointe-Noire

Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo, recently completed a China tour which culminated in the announcement of a new Chinese-backed port and special economic zone (SEZ) in Pointe-Noire. The coastal city is the economic hub of the country and gateway to its substantial offshore oil and gas reserves. Congolese state oil company SNPC recently announced a new round of offshore licensing. News outlet Upstream Online reported on 11 November 2016 that the government planned to route a new gas pipeline through its SEZ to introduce easier access to gas for industrial activities.

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Oman: Duqm SEZ receives Kuwaiti energy investment

Thomas Reuters Zawya service reported on 11 November 2016 that Oman Oil Company and Kuwait Petroleum International Ltd had signed a memorandum of understanding to develop the Duqm Refinery & Petrochemical Complex at the Duqm SEZ.  Zawya reports that the joint venture project will be based on a 900 hectare parcel of land.

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Nigeria: China Polaris to build FTZ in Ibadan, Oyo State

The New Mail Nigeria and The News Nigeria reported in November 2016 the announcement of a new free trade zone (FTZ) in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo state, to build by the business conglomerate China Polaris Group. The first phase, including the construction of five factories, is projected to cost $500 million, with the total project value estimated at $2 billion. China Polaris President Zhang Wendong said the project would be “targeting solar energy that will power the whole of Ibadan and its environs,” according to the New Mail. “This is the first of its kind in Africa and it will be replicated in other African countries.” Nigerian government authorities spoke to the potential for this project to be a major driver of both light and heavy industry investment, expressing hopes that Ibadan could become a major regional economic hub.

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Zimbabwe: President Mugabe signs SEZ bill

Zimbabwe’s The Herald news services reported on 26 October 2016 that long-time President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe has signed a new Special Economic Zones Act into law that will allow the creation of Special Economic Zones in the country, in a bid to boost low FDI levels. The country has seen a severe slump in FDI from 2014-2016, from already low levels due to security and infrastructure concerns.  The new act is part of Zimbabwe’s collaboration with the Chinese government on a wide variety of economic projects, and its signing coincides with a visit by a National Development and Reform Commission delegation from China.  The Herald quoted Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet of Zimbabwe Dr Misheck Sibanda sharing his belief that the new “Special Economic Zones Act” is going to be the basis of the operationalisation of all the work we are doing” with China.

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