The World Free Zones Organization held its annual meeting of the Board of Directors in Geneva

The World Free Zones Organization (World FZO), a global non-profit organization, held its annual board meeting and a “Lateral Multilateral Organizations Tour” in Geneva, Switzerland, as part of its leadership expansion and growth strategies. The meeting brought together representatives of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the International Road Transport Union (IRU), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and the International Labor Organization (ILO). World FZO representatives were led by Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni, President and included José Contreras (Vice President, Dominican Republic), Emeka Ene (Secretary, Nigeria) and Martin Ibarra (Advisor to the Board, Colombia).

During the meeting, the board discussed areas of international integration and cooperation to enable global free zones to enhance their economic assets, highlight their important role in global trade and supply chains. supply, as well as overcoming challenges and creating opportunities for growth and prosperity in their trade and labor markets. In addition, the task force will enable the World FZO to integrate the UN SDGs into all new and existing free zones and extend its scope to companies managing a fleet of vehicles crossing borders.

Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni, Chairman of World FZO, said: “Free zones across the world play a key role in stimulating and reviving global trade and ensuring its sustainable investment flows. This has a direct impact on national economies, in particular by providing employment opportunities where free zones globally provide more than 80 million jobs. We believe that integration and cooperation with international organizations will double these opportunities, which will have a positive impact that will benefit all parties. We also seek to enhance security amid illicit business practices by following the highest international standards by members and implementing best practices endorsed and shared by our organization.

The transportation and movement of goods across borders has experienced disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A WTO report shows a 10-20% drop in the value of global trade in goods and services in 2020 due to the pandemic. This has further amplified the relevance of the nearly 4,000 free zones around the world as accelerators of trade and economic growth.

With this, the working group with the WTO will seek to rebuild supply capacity, manage trade restrictions and promote digitalization in supply chains. In addition, it will highlight the importance of investment in logistics and expand trade finance to enhance contribution to economic recovery. There is also a need to strengthen the global value chain that caters to key sectors such as agriculture and food processing, pharmaceuticals, information and communications technology, and health.

The World FZO also aims to advance its sustainability goals in line with the United Nations SDGs. Therefore, the working group with UNCTAD will take advantage of the Izdihar Index to encourage free zones to adopt environmentally friendly and sustainable practices as well as to ensure safe and secure work. environment that allows employees to increase their productivity, improve their performance, ethics, morale, health and well-being. In addition, it will equip employees with technical knowledge and digital skills through the Digital Zone Certification Program, which aims to boost companies’ digital operations.

The Izdihar index, which means prosperity in Arabic, is the main instrument of the Free Zone of the Future (FZF) program launched by the World FZO as a tool that offers methods to identify areas of weakness within the structure operational and measure peak performance.

In addition, the working group with the ILO and the IOE will help companies to retrain and upskill their workforce through different programs such as the online management diploma, the training program for small, medium and companies (SMEEP) and others.

Meanwhile, the World FZO will extend its reach to the International Road Transport Union (IRU) to help its goal of promoting sustainability in its vehicle fleet. Thanks to the planned task force, transport and logistics companies crossing borders will join Izdihar for green and safe mobility, in line with the UN SDGs.

Commenting on the success of the meeting, José Contreras said, “Many points were discussed today and I look forward to seeing these results as we respond to the needs of our stakeholders and partners. We will continue to work with other organizations to give our members unparalleled access to world-class experience, network and services, as well as to ensure that they contribute to the development of host countries.

For years, the World Free Zones Organization has worked with various organizations and other stakeholders to develop solutions, legislation and tools for free zones around the world and ensure the protection of international trade against illicit activities.


© Press release 2022

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