Meetings discuss ways to advance the future growth of free zones - GulfToday

Meetings discuss ways to advance the future growth of free zones


Dr Mohammed Al Zarooni speaks during an event in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Dr Mohammed Al Zarooni, Chairman of the World Free Zones Organization (World FZO), headed a delegation from the World FZO on an official visit to the Dominican Republic and the Republic of Cuba to outline trends and factors to advance the future growth of free zones. In addition to identifying bilateral cooperation mechanisms to support the sector and its progress on an economic and commercial level.

Dr Mohammed Al Zarooni delivered the opening speech at the Free Trade Zones Association of the Americas (AZFA) Conference, held in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. The Conference was attended by Louis Rodolfo Abinader Corona, President of the Dominican Republic, Gustavo González De Vega, President of the AZFA, and leaders of free zones throughout America.

In his speech, Al Zarooni spoke about the support provided by World FZO to member countries in North America and South America, affirming the Organization’s commitment to supporting the growth of this sector in that region. While also confirming that free zones, at both a local and global level, play an essential role in supporting economies across the globe on several levels, which include attracting foreign direct investment to the national economy, enhancing global trade, developing supply chains, and other direct and indirect benefits. This was particularly evident during the past few years when the world incurred various challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as fluctuations and changes in the economy in general.

Dr Mohammed Al Zarooni, Chairman of the World Free Zones Organization (World FZO), said: “At the World FZO, we will continue our efforts to advance the contribution of free zones to the economies of every country by exchanging knowledge and expertise with government and non-government officials, as well as the private sector. This is in addition to openly discussing and promoting economic opportunities among free zones around the world based on the concept of integration among free zones and supporting the companies that operate in these free zones to grow and expand beyond the borders of the countries they run in. In addition to continuing to identify ways to take advantage of special programs and initiatives launched by the World FZO to support these goals.”

Dubai to host 9th edition: During the meeting in the Dominican Republic, which was chaired by Dr Mohammed Al Zarooni, the World FZO Board of Directors approved the hosting of the 9th edition of the World FZO Annual International Conference and Exhibition in Dubai. The prestigious conference will take place from May 2–3, 2023, under the slogan “Global Trade 2.0: Free Zones, a Trust System that Supports Prosperity” and will see the participation of over 600 figures.

The World FZO Annual International Conference and Exhibition in Dubai will discuss several strategic issues, including how to support and sustain trust between concerned parties, mechanisms to mitigate the impact of economic challenges, and ways to maintain the vitality of free zones through strategies that ensure their prosperity. This is in addition to identifying ways to keep up with changes in corporate governance, data, and digitization. The Board of Directors also announced that it would begin receiving applications to host the 10th edition of the annual event.

The Board of Directors approved the formation of six committees comprising representatives from global free zones and international organizations to support its vision and strategy. This included the Executive Committee, the Financial Committee, the Knowledge Committee, the Memberships Committee, the Policies Committee, and a Committee for Developing Relationships with the Private Sector.

The delegation of the World Free Zones Organization concluded its trip with a visit to the Mariel Special Development Zone in the Republic of Cuba, where Manuel Marrero Cruz, Prime Minister of the Republic of Cuba, welcomed Mohammed Al Zarooni to discuss the future of free zones and their importance in supporting the country’s economy. In addition to identifying directions and factors that will advance their future growth and the mechanisms to enhance bilateral cooperation between the two sides to support the sector and its growth. The Cuban Prime Minister praised the role of the World FZO in supporting economic zones and empowering their regional and global integration with governments and relevant organizations while also affirming Cuba’s full support for the Organization’s strategic goals and empowerment elements.

The visit consisted of a site visit of SEZ’s facilities and services, as well as its strategic and development plans. His Excellency Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni praised Cuba’s free zone model. It underlined its importance in supporting the country’s economy to expedite recovery from the pandemic’s repercussions and keep up with global commercial and investment activities.

The tour also included a series of bilateral meetings with senior leaders of the World Free Zones Organization, including Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz, Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment for Cuba, and Ana Teresa Igarza Martinez, Director General of the Mariel Special Development Zone, as well as several officials from the Republic of Cuba.

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