On May 17, Geneva time, the Global Alliance of Special Economic Zones (GASEZ) was jointly launched by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and 7 other global Special Economic Zones (SEZs), including the Green Partnership of Industrial Parks (GPIPC) from China. The launch ceremony was held in Geneva, Switzerland online, with the presence of UNCTAD Secretary General Rebeca Grynspan. Song Yuyan, Director of the Secretariat of the GPIPC, as GASEZ co-founding member represntative, was invited to dliver a speech. Representatives from Tianjin Economic and Technological Development Zone, Suzhou Industrial Park, Jiangning Economic and Technological Development Zone, Jiaozhou Economic and Technological Development Zone (SCO demonstration zone) attended the launching ceremony.

What is GASEZ?

GASEZ is short for GLOBAL ALLIANCE OF SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONES. In light of the key findings of the World Investment Report 2019, the initiative of establishing the GASEZ was proposed by the Director of Investment and Enterprise Division at the UNCTAD Trade and Development Board and won the support of its member States (195 countries). On 21 October 2021, the initiative was formally presented by UNCTAD at a special session of the World Investment Forum, and eight global and regional associations representing SEZs worldwide announced their collective intention to establish GASEZ in partnership with UNCTAD in 2022.

The founding members include (in alphabetical order): Africa Economic Zones Organization (AEZO), Morocco, Free Trade Zones Association of the Americas (AZFA), Colombia, World Free and Special Economic Zones Federation (FEMOZA), Geneva, Green Partnership for Industrial Parks of China (GPIPC), China, International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP), Spain, National Association of Foreign-Trade Zones (NAFTZ), United States, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Switzerland and World Free Zones Organization (WFZO), United Arab Emirates.

GASEZ is a non-entity and non-government multilateral cooperation platform, with UNCTAD's Division of Investment and Enterprise serving as the permanent secretariat, and every year, it will cooperate with the rotating institution to coordinate the work of the Alliance. The GPIPC is the only Chinese founding member of GASEZ.

SEZs, served by the GASEZ, cover a wide range of sectors, including free trade zones and industrial parks. As a global platform, GASEZ will work to promote the modernization of SEZs worldwide and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), thus achieving more inclusive, resilient and sustainable economies. The initiative also aims at providing a global common platform for the global investment–development community, drawing together financial institutions, SEZ developers, governments, and investment promotion agencies to create opportunities for partnerships at international and regional levels.

John Denton, secretary-general of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), said: “We support this important initiative…Through collaborative efforts you will be able to help improve SEZ services to business and at the ICC global network we stand ready to work with you to achieve this objective.”

Deepak Bagla, president of the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies, said: “As supply chains re-organize themselves in a post-pandemic world order, we have a great opportunity where we can work together and create economic zones which will be based on the core pillars of sustainability, of efficiency, of creating jobs and helping us all working together with our complementarities.”

What are the main functions of the GASEZ?

1.      Facilitating cross-border and cross-industry collaboration between SEZs in trade and investment promotion for sustainable development.

2.      Collective policy advocacy for sound enabling frameworks for SEZs at the national, regional and global levels.

3.      Promoting awareness of the contributions of SEZs to sustainable development.

4.      Peer learning through the exchange of experiences, best practices and lessons learned among SEZs.

5.      Undertaking joint technical cooperation programmes for modernizing SEZs and promoting SDG model zones.

 

What is the significance of joining GASEZ?

According to the UN World Investment Report 2019, there are 2,543 development zones at the provincial level and above in China, accounting for around 50% of the SEZs worldwide. As for China, national economic development zones are important carriers for economic growth, industrial concentration and urbanization in related regions. Under the guideline of innovation, coordination, green, openness and sharing, national economic development zones act as important "testing grounds" and "pioneer areas" for the transformation, upgrading and green low-carbon sustainable development in industrial parks.

Official statistics show that in 2020, the regional GDP of national economic development zones registered 11 trillion RMB, accounting for 11% of the GDP. Total import and export achieved 7 trillion RMB, roughly 21.7% of the national total. Actual use of foreign capital and reinvestment of foreign-invested enterprises topped 57.4 billion USD.

Being part of GASEZ will be conducive to business exchanges and cooperation between national economic zones and international ones, thanks to which, the former can benefit from resources from international investment and trade or from scientific and technological innovation. At the same time, this action will help the green, low-carbon and sustainable development in national economic development zones, thus forming “China’s experience”. These are how we make national economic development zones more influential in global SEZs.

About the Green Partnership of Industrial Parks in China (GPIPC)

Guided and supported by the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), the Green Partnership of Industrial Parks in China (GPIPC) was jointly initiated in 2016 by 36 leading National Economic & Technological Development Zones (NETDZs) of China which have had made outstanding achievements in green development and upgrading. As an information exchange and cooperation platform, GPIPC strives for facilitating green transition, high-quality development and international cooperation for industrial parks in China.

As co-founding member of GASEZ, GPIPC will, under the principle of equal communication and mutual benefit, participate in activities within the framework of GASEZ and closely collaborate with other GASEZ founding members across the globe. We are ready to promote exchanges and cooperation with national economic development zones, various industrial parks in China and other SEZs around the world, achieving the goal of innovation and sustainable development of global SEZs.

 

Official website of the Global Alliance of Special Economic Zones: https://gasez.org/

Official website of the Green Partnership of Industrial Parks: https://www.greendev.org.cn/

 


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