The Role of SEZs and SLZs in re-launching Italian Logistics and Industry

Tempo de leitura: 2 minutos

According to consolidated economic literature, SEZs are exceptional tools for catalyzing foreign direct investments, and especially in developed countries their use has been to introduce facilitations in the commercial logistics sector. Ports and airports are critical to the successful development of Special Economic Zones.

In the first case,  port infrastructures, having  considerable storage capacity and logistic connections, act as a buffer to regulate the flow of goods to and from the SEZs. Furthermore, the type of commodity flows carried out in the proximity port influences the nature of the entrepreneurial activities undertaken in the SEZ.

On the other hand,  proximity to an airport, which favors the traffic of perishable goods and products with high technological added value, is another key success factor, allowing the faster connection of SEZs with national and international markets, as well as with Global Supply Chains and the Global Value Chains. However, the proximity to ports and airports is not an indispensable requirement for the proper functioning of these instruments: for example, in Poland there is only one SEZ located near a port (Gdansk) and the success of the other SEZs has depended on different factors.

The ability of SEZs to bring about an acceleration of economic development is remarkable: according to a 2019 analysis by the World Bank, the growth rate in SEZs was on average 14.7%, i.e. about 11.56% higher than the average growth recorded in the rest of the world.

Compared to the decreases foreseen for 2021 by the WTO and UNCTAD, which estimated a contraction of global trade up to 32% and 40%, respectively, due to the pandemic crisis, the anticipation of these economic shocks already occurred in 2020 in all production sectors. Although to an infinitely lesser extent, this also concerned the production plants located in Free Zones and ZEZs, whose ontologically business-oriented regulatory and infrastructural characterizations worked, in this exceptional situation, with a “parachute” effect, guaranteeing a faster positive reaction.

SEZs are also able to facilitate economic diversification, which plays a central role in countering the negative economic effects produced by the pandemic, being an essential factor in reducing the vulnerability of the country system to economic shocks such as that resulting from Covid-19. The correlation between SEZs and economic diversification was also highlighted in the official release of the G20 Trade and Investment Ministers Meeting of 22 September 2020, which also focused on SEZs.

Furthermore, the strategies hinging on the replication and adaptation of best practices adopted within the “free zones of exception”, especially if SEZs, are also suggested by UNCTAD among the factors to be included in any government program aimed at accelerating the recovery of the economic sector in the post-Covid-19 phase.

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