The World Free Zones Organization (World FZO) partnered with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India (MOCI, GoI), to hold their first joint international conference in New Delhi, India in November 2019. The event brought together free trade zone stakeholders to discuss shared challenges, best practices, emerging technology and new collaborations amongst free zones of the region and beyond.

The World FZO also held its 12th annual Board meeting to review its reach, impact and partnerships developed since its inception in 2014, as well as its future projects and strategies. The World FZO has grown into a global body with 574 members in 125 countries, has established global certification standards, has signed MoUs with several multi-lateral organizations, and has launched a set of unique digital services designed specifically for free zones.

His Excellency Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni, Chairman of the World FZO, led the Board meeting. The committees and Board members reviewed how the World FZO had grown from a single base to global headquarters with 10 regional offices, 25 national contact points (NCPs) and 6 international ambassadors, with 4 more regional offices and 25 more NCPs coming on board in 2020. The Organization has signed MoUs with major global bodies including UNCTAD, UNIDO, the International Trade Centre, the World Customs Organization and the Dubai Free Zone Council. It also collaborates closely with the International Labour Organization, the World Trade Organization and the World Bank, cementing its status as a truly mature global body in its own right. Its annual conference continued its successful run, hosting an average of over 810 attendees from 76 countries each year.

Three of the World FZO’s active programs have already begun to spread international standards on clean trade with the Safe Zone certificate, sustainability with the Green Zone certificate, and digital technology with the Innovative Zone certificate. It has also launched 3 pioneering digital services for its members. An Open University offers online diplomas and courses tailored specifically for free zone management, while its fledging Omnia B2B platform is coming online next year.

Its set of analytical tools and metrics, the Izdihar Index, has already been rolled out to member free zones to help them unlock their full performance as part of the Free Zone of the Future Program.

“We all look forward to the 2020 edition of our Annual International Conference and Exhibition in Dubai,” said Dr. Al Zarooni, “Where we will bring together our members once again to share these milestone achievements and announce more exciting projects to come in the next five years as we continue to consolidate our success.”

The World FZO Board reaffirmed its strategic vision and voted to expand its mission to go beyond free zones and to include a wider range of stakeholders. This signals a deeper focus to serve free zone companies with bespoke solutions and tools that will complement the Organization’s efforts to enhance free zone services, provide support to free zone growth and connect free zones and their member companies together for mutual benefits and prosperous trade.

Dr. Al Zarooni also inaugurated the international conference along with Dr. Guruprasad Mohapatra, Secretary DPIIT, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, and Dr Anup Wadhawan, Commerce Secretary, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, as well as several Ministers from the Government of India and dozens of senior corporate and government officials.

“Successful free zones require a subtle mix of incentives, including streamlined regulation, modern technological tools, transparency rules for clean trade, and a strong environmental policy,” explained Dr. Al Zarooni in his keynote speech. Panel discussions that took place during the conference tackled the topics of government support for local free zones, the role of best practices in Indian schemes, methods to enhance safety and transparency in Indian free zones, as well as opportunities for Indian ports to become logistics hubs through infrastructure investments.

At the event, as part of its efforts to develop stronger ties with local partners, the World FZO also signed an NCP charter with DP World India through its CEO, Mr. Ranjit Ray. DP World India will act as a focal point to spread to Indian free trade zone operators, authorities, investors and registered companies the wide range of solutions and tools that the World FZO has developed.

Source: Four Communications

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