Global free zones have challenges to contend with
That more than half of world free zones now believe they are back in normal operating conditions is the most encouraging aspect of the survey. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: After enduring their worst year ever, free zones the world over are optimistic about their growth chances in 2021.

During the third quarter of last year, 49 per cent of free zones surveyed had ‘normal economic conditions’, which then shot up to 53 per cent in the latest survey conducted in December. Around 40 per cent expressed a positive outlook during the fourth quarter and were looking at the first quarter of 2021 to be a repeat, the World Free Zones Organization (World FZO) said in a report.

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“Amidst the pandemic, free zones have been doing their best to ensure business continuity and resume normal activities,” said Mohammed Al Zarooni, Chairman of World FZO. “As with challenges, we also see the opportunities as economies work towards greater regional coordination and integration with the support of policy reforms and use of latest technologies.”

The report further noted that investment, employment, and profitability of free zones showed improvement during the fourth quarter. “Free zones can be the most ‘future ready’ if they focus on recovering in the most sustainable way based on greater transparency in their environment, social and governance commitment,” Al Zarooni added.