The world's best free trade zones

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Published 2 months ago

For foreign investors and entrepreneurs, free trade zones provide a range of benefits including exemption from customs duties, elimination of restrictions on quantitative import and other free trade policies. FDI Magazine ranks the world's best free trade zones with particular emphasis on the latest development projects and different benefits for investors. Find out more if you're looking to start or expand your business abroad or you're searching for new career prospects.

Middle East

Dubai port
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For the fourth year in a row, the United Arab Emirates tops the ranking for having the world's best free trade zone. One of the most attractive destinations in the Middle East for foreign investment, the United Arab Emirates can boast of significant improvements over the past year, especially in the Dubai Multi Commodities Center (DMCC). In 2017, 2,000 new businesses added to the 14,805 existing companies. Bahri Group, a Saudi-based transportation and logistics company, and Deliveroo, a UK-based company, made massive investments in the DMCC. Hasbro, American Express and Colgate-Palmolive are other major companies operating in the free trade zone. The DMCC also plays a crucial role in events, hosting no less than 155 conferences and other events in 2017. In the next decade, the DMCC aims at creating more than 10,000 new jobs through significant infrastructure and development projects, some of which are underway.

Africa

Mauritius free trade zone
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As a gateway to Africa and one of the most attractive countries for investment in the region, Mauritius also has one of the world's best free trade zones. Investment projects are cropping up year after year thanks to a range of incentives provided by the government. Mauritius recently launched a massive promotional campaign in South Africa, France and the UK to inform potential investors of the various opportunities and facilities it's providing. It's worth noting that free trade investment accounts for 0.7% of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Today, there are 280 companies in the free trade zone with more than 3,500 employees. If you're wondering about the benefits of investing in Mauritius, think of the excellent opportunities for investing in logistics in the Indian Ocean and the access to African and Asian markets. Besides, major development works in the port will allow Mauritius to accommodate larger vessels. Foreign investors and entrepreneurs are also entitled to storage facilities. Land and storage buildings are also exempt from transfer tax and registration fees.

Asia-Pacific

Amata City, Thailand
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Founded in 1989 in the Chonburi Province, in Thailand, Amata City is the most attractive free trade zone in the Asia Pacific region. Stretching over 4,121 hectares of land, Amata City hosts more than 700 companies mainly from Japan and the rest of Asia. Many companies from Europe and North America, including the USA and Canada, also operate within the free trade zone. It's worth noting that Amata City accounts for nearly 10% of the national GDP thanks to the expansion of sectors like automotive, metals, electronics and services, among others. During the past year, there was an 18.4% growth in its labour market, which is the most significant rate in the Asia-Pacific region. Today, Amata City counts more than 215,000 employees. Investors can benefit from a developed infrastructure, including access to airports and seaports, and major highways meeting the needs of supply chains and logistics. Autoliv, a Sweden-based company, and Japan-based Bridgestone and Toyota are some of the largest companies operating within the free trade zone.

Europe

Fiat automotive company in Serbia
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Providing a range of incentives to investors, Pirot, located in Serbia, is the most attractive free trade zone in Europe. There was a 22% growth in the manufacturing sector between 2016 and 2017 along with a 5% increase in the number of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Pirot offers excellent connectivity for export activities. Foreign entrepreneurs and investors are also exempt from tax on corporate benefits for ten years as from the first year profits are recorded. Applying mainly to companies that have invested more than 9 million euros in fixed assets and have more than 100 additional employees, this measure aims at attracting more substantial activities. Recently, Tigar Tires – which is one of the major companies in the free trade zone – invested an additional 27 million euros in new logistics and warehouse development projects. Potential investors can benefit from a remaining space of 400 hectares to build energy efficient infrastructure.

America

Panama free trade zone
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As the most attractive free trade zone in the Americas, Panama Pacifico hosts some major US-based companies like Dell and FedEx, and German-based companies like BASF, specialising in chemicals, among many others. With excellent connectivity and access to three of the major ports in the Americas, Panama Pacifico can boast of a range of benefits for investors including a highly qualified workforce. Panama values education, training and employability. Today, more than 1,400 hectares of land is available for the development of mixed-use and green space projects. Recently, the hi-tech and logistics sectors benefited from the expansion of the Pan-American Enterprise Center over an industrial area of 95 hectares. Also, foreign investors will soon have access to a 7,900 square meters storage space.