Specialism: Appliances 

Free Economic Zone Gomel-Raton, Belarus

Lithuanian supplier of household appliances KTD Group picked the Free Economic Zone Gomel-Raton in Belarus to start production within the borders of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and use the zone as a base to serve the EEU’s market of 170 million people. The zone also held a conference with Sweden’s IKEA for Belarusian enterprises interested in working with the company.

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Specialism: Automotive

Tanger Med Zones 

Tanger Med Zones have become the base of original equipment manufacturers of the likes of Renault (Ford also has a purchasing department within the zone). The zones’ authorities have expanded the Tanger Automotive City, and developed an Automotive Logistics Platform as a consolidated logisitial platform to optimise the logistical flows toward the original equipment manufacturers to transport materials to overseas destinations like Europe, Asia and America.

Specialism: Aviation

West of England Enterprise Zone, UK

Global aerospace giants Airbus, Rolls-Royce and GKN picked the Filton Enterprise Area, one of the seven enterprise zones and areas in the West of England, to leverage its location, strong profile and access to a highly skilled workforce. Recently, Airbus opened its Wing Integration Centre, a £40m facility which will accelerate the development of future wing design as the industry looks to reduce its carbon footprint. In addition, GKNs £32m Global Technology Centre will offer 10,000 square metres of collaborative research space to host 300 highly skilled engineers to develop the next level of advanced manufacturing and Industry 4.0 processes to enable a higher rate of aircraft structure production. 

Specialism: BPO

Montego Bay Free Zone, Jamaica

The Montego Bay Free Zone has become the largest employer within the city of Montego Bay with leading business process outsourcing companies such as Concentrix and Teleperformance operating in the zone. Local authorities have built a purpose-designed building to increase the comfort and convenience of customers. 

Specialism: Financial and Professional Services 

Birmingham City Centre Enterprise Zone, UK

Birmingham City Centre Enterprise Zone has been central to the city’s rise as an alternative to London for some functions in the field of business and professional services. The focus on those key sectors (business and professional services, financial services, digital media, creative industries and ICT) in which Birmingham has a competitive advantage in conjunction with intelligent targeting of site marketing aims “to minimise displacement and maximise real growth”, the zone says. Global companies of the likes of HSBC, PwC and DLA Piper feature among the city’s recent wins. 

Specialism: IT 

Freeport of Ventspils, Latvia

The Freeport of Ventspils has paid increasing attention to the development of the  Information and Communication Technology (ICT) cluster through the implementation of an ICT industry growth strategy to support the development of tech start-ups. A business support centre, business incubator and a support package including co-working space and office premises are now available free of charge to start-ups that set up within the zone. 

Specialism: Life Sciences Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone, China

The Life Science and Technology Industrial Park, a service-oriented biomedical professional platform integrating headquarters, exhibition, scientific research, pilot test and production was built to incubate promising SMEs and start-ups in life sciences. It benchmarks world-leading life science clusters by initiating a one-stop service platform that focuses on development and production of biologically innovative drugs, medical devices and life sciences technology services, fostering an innovation ecosystem of technological industries.

Specialism: Logistics Kaliningrad Special Economic Zone, Russia

The Kaliningrad Special Economic Zone in Russia’s exclave Kaliningrad offers the availability of two types of railway gauge – broad gauge (standard of Eurasian Economic Union countries) and narrow gauge (European standard) – as the trans-European transport corridors passes through the region, connecting China and Europe in eight days of transit time. 

Specialism: Medical Devices Coyol Free Zone, Costa Rica

The Coyol Free Zone in Costa Rica has been instrumental to the country’s rise as a major exporter of medical devices in Latin America. The zone hosts the operations of 29 companies, seven of them ranked among the top 30 medical device companies in the world. These companies are Medtronic, Abbott Medical, Philips, Cardinal Health, MicroVention-Terumo, Smith & Nephew and Hologic.

Specialism: Oil and Gas 

Oil & Gas Free Zone, Onne, Nigeria

Located just off Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s main hub for the oil and gas industry, the Oil & Gas Free Zone of Onne is the base for major oil producers like Mobil, Chevron, Shell and Total, as well as oil services providers like Halliburton and Schlumberger. The zone is in the process of augmenting the value of its strategic location by strengthening its port and heavy machinery infrastructure. 

Specialism: Pharmaceuticals Special Economic Zone ‘St. Petersburg’, Russia

The Special Economic Zone ‘St. Peters-burg’ hosts several major domestic and international pharmaceutical companies such as Russian Biocad, the zone’s largest tenant, which is planning to open a second local pharmaceutical complex by the end of 2020, and Switzerland’s Novartis. As part of the development of the zone, the managing company will create an innovation centre by the end of 2021. In this centre, residents will be able to rent free office and industrial premises. 

Specialism: Renewables Investments

Arvand Free Zone, Iran

Mostly known for its activity in the oil and gas and petrochemical industries, the Arvand Free Zone is developing  an 11-hectare, 10MW solar farm to provide tenants with green energy and improve its environmental footprint. 

Specialism: Robotics 

Pomeranian Special Economic Zone, Poland

The Pomeranian Special Economic Zone in Poland has launched the Industrial Robots Programming Centre, one of the first such centres in Poland, which makes it possible to develop skills in the field of automatic control and robotics and thus places the zone at the forefront of the Industry 4.0 revolution. 

Specialism: Shipbuilding

Special Economic Zone Lotus, Russia

In 2019, the company Naval Design International became the first tenant of SEZ Lotus to produce locally and ship interior decoration panels for sea and river vessels as well as for offshore fleets. In future expansion phases, the company plans to produce ceiling panels and specially equipped rooms for vessels (for example, refrigerators, washrooms and kitchens).

Specialism: Textiles

Ontustik Special Economic Zone, Kazakhstan

The Special Economic Zone of Ontustik, in southern Kazakhstan, was created as a platform for the formation of a textile cluster in the country. The zone occupancy rate has now reached 95% and work is in progress to expand the zone’s area to 500 hectares from 200 hectares, to make space for new tenants. 

Specialism: Wood Products 

Nkok Special Economic Zone, Gabon

The Nkok Special Economic Zone in Gabon has become a reference for the local timber industry thanks to the large availability of okume veneer in the area, one of the top raw materials for the production of plywood. Among others, two Indian companies, CCentury and Greenply are active within the zone, alongside domestic Gabon Wood Industries. 

Follow the link for a video presentation of the awards. 

fDi's Global Free Zones of the Year 2020 first appeared in the October - November print edition of fDi Intelligence. View a digital edition of the magazine here.