Free trade zone

A free trade zone (FTZ) or export processing zone (EPZ) is one or more special areas of a country where some normal trade barriers such as tariffs and quotas are eliminated and bureaucratic requirements are lowered in hopes of attracting new business and foreign investments. Free trade zones can be defined as labor intensive manufacturing centers that involve the import of raw materials or components and the export of factory products.

Most FTZs are located in developing countries. Bureaucracy is typically minimized by outsourcing it to the FTZ operator and corporations setting up in the zone may be given tax breaks as an additional incentive. Usually, these zones are set up in underdeveloped parts of the host country, the rationale being that the zones will attract employers and thus reduce poverty and unemployment and stimulate the area's economy. These zones are often used by multinational corporations to set up factories to produce goods (such as clothing or shoes).

Free trade zones in Latin America date back to the early decades of the 20th century. The first free trade regulations in this region were enacted in Argentina and Uruguay in the 1920s. However, the rapid development of free trade zones across the region dates from the late 1960s and the early 1970s.

In 1999, there were 43 million people working in about 3000 FTZs spanning 116 countries producing clothes, shoes, sneakers, electronics, and toys. The basic objectives of EPZs are to enhance foreign exchange earnings, develop export-oriented industries and to generate employment opportunities.


The creation of special free trade zones is criticized for encouraging businesses to set up operations under the influence of often corrupt governments, and giving foreign corporations more economic liberty than is given indigenous employers who face large and sometimes insurmountable "regulatory" hurdles in developing nations. However, many countries are increasingly allowing local entrepreneurs to locate inside FTZs in order to access export-based incentives. Because the multinational corporation is able to choose between a wide range of underdeveloped or depressed nations in setting up overseas factories, and most of these countries do not have limited governments, bidding wars erupt between competing governments.

Often the government pays part of the initial cost of factory setup, loosens environmental protections and rules regarding negligence and the treatment of workers, and promises not to ask payment of taxes for the next few years. When the taxation-free years are over the corporation which set up the factory without fully assuming its costs is often able to set up operations elsewhere for less expense than the taxes to be paid, giving it leverage to take the host government to the bargaining table with more demands in order for it to continue operations in the country. Often if human rights, labor or environmental abuses are challenged, subcontracted local entities may face consequences, but parent companies in the United States are rarely held accountable. [Millen, Joyce and Timoth Holtz, "Dying for Growth, Part I, The Politics of Globalization, ed. Mark Kesselman, Hougton Mifflin, 2007]

The widespread use of free trade zones by companies such as Nike has received criticism from numerous writers such as Naomi Klein in her book "No Logo".

Free Trade Zones

* [ Bahrain Logisitcs Zone] , Kingdom of Bahrain
* [ Batam Free Trade Zone]
* Port Klang Free Zone
* Aras Free Zone
* The Miami Free Zone
* Colón Free Trade Zone
* Jamaican Free Zones
* Jebel Ali Free Zone
* Shannon Free Zone
* Bangladesh' Export Processing Zone
* Mauritius' Export Processing Zone
* Kish Island
* Saipan
* [ Taiwan]
* Calabar Free Trade Zone
* Qeshm Island
* Zona Franca de Manaus, Brazil
* Cavite Free Trade Zone, Philippines
* Doraleh free zone, Djibouti
* Zolic, Guatemala

Colombian free trade zones

*Santa Marta


See also

*List of international trade topics
*Third world
*Multinational corporation
*Free Trade Area
*Free economic zone

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Look at other dictionaries:

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