World Free Zones Organization

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The World Free Zones Organization (World FZO) was launched in Dubai, UAE, in May 2014, by its 14 founding members and under the auspices of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai. Registered in Geneva and headquartered in Dubai, the World FZO is the only truly international, multi-lateral organization for free zones in the world today.

A new global organization

The free zone concept, in its many forms, has gained popularity over the past few decades, particularly in the emerging economies of Asia, the Middle East and Africa. From the first free zone at Shannon Airport in 1959, the model has proliferated to the point where there are an estimated 3,500 free zones around the world, which support approximately 70 million jobs.

In addition, to ensure they receive the international recognition and support they deserve, the role of these zones as exemplars of modern infrastructure, as creators of employment opportunities, and as integrators of services, logistics and transport networks, should be highlighted.

Free zones have played a critical role in the economies of many countries and to ensure they have the greatest possible impact, they need a global, unifying association to bring them together. One that can represent their interests, share their achievements and support their continuous positive development. It is to address this need that the World FZO has been created.​​​​​​​

Objectives

The board of directors and executive management of the World Free Zones Organization (World FZO) has established a number of key objectives. These objectives form the mandate for t​he association and underpin all the World FZO’s activities.

  1. Bring together free zones; regional, national, subnational and local free zone associations; consultants and advisors to free zones; free zone users; interested governmental organizations; and international trade related organizations, for knowledge exchange, education and training, networking and business development
  2. Provide a forum for free zones around the world to learn, grow and prosper through unrivalled access to exclusive in-depth research and insights
  3. Create ‘best in class’ standards for free zones that enhance the economic ecosystem both globally and in local markets, as well as guidelines for the establishment and administration of free zones
  4. Gather, create, expand and disseminate the knowledge of, and about, free zones internationally
  5. Improve the perception of free zones globally and position them as areas that make valuable contributions to the local economy and promote sustainable business
  6. Provide specialized operational, administrative, educational and networking services to Members, Partners and Observers through trainings as well as physical and electronic resources
  7. Support and advise new free zones internationally as they develop
  8. Become the global through leader on free zones and issues relating to them

Member Services

The World Free Zones Organization (World FZO) provides a number of dedicated services to its members and partners. These have been designed to support members in achieving their strategic objectives and enhancing operational performance, as well as bringing new insights and learnings around best practices and are grouped in three areas: Knowledge, Networking, and Support

Knowledge

The World Free Zones Organization (World FZO) is building the world’s most comprehensive knowledge base on free zones to provide members and partners with key insights to inform economic and business strategies. This Knowledge Hub is research-led and aims to raise awareness of the positive contribution free zones are making to the global economy. The key elements of World FZO’s Knowledge Hub include the World FZO Observatory, FZ pedia and the World FZO Open University.

World FZO Observatory

A dedicated research center for World FZO members that seeks to collect and analyze original data on global free zones. To this end, the Observatory publishes a quarterly Bulletin with trade, FDI and industry developments and statistics as they relate to free zones. The Observatory is also in the process of mapping out the world’s free zones in an Atlas that will include comparative data on each.

Finally, the Observatory publishes and annual Free Zones Economic Outlook Report, a forward looking report with expert insights on global free zone trends. The World FZO Observatory principally seeks to provide members with the necessary tools to engage and advocate with international policy makers.

FZ Pedia

The FZ pedia is the World FZO’s open resource for research, expert insight and analysis on free zones and special economic zones globally. This online library is available to members, associate members and partners and all content is peer-reviewed by the international academic and business community.

World FZO University

The World FZO’s Open University is the center for research and executive education for free zones and ancillary industry professionals. In collaboration with the World FZO’s key strategic partners, the Open University will deliver executive trainings based on best practices.

Members who join the World FZO Open University will also have access to exclusive reports, case studies, tools kits, expert advice and online seminars.

Network

A key objective of the World Free Zones Organization (World FZO) is to become the leading platform for interaction between free zones and a facilitator for business development and new partnerships. In joining the World FZO, members will immediately gain access to a wide network of free zone professionals, consultants and international policy makers. The World FZO aims to connect all of these industry players through regular networking events as well as a comprehensive online Business Directory and Services Marketplace via the World FZO website.

This includes contact details and information about each member’s operations and will be categorized by sector and region. Once a year, the World FZO will host its Free Zone Economic Outlook Conference and Exhibition, designed to bring together all the major international actors that have an interest in or an impact on free zones to discuss global trends and the latest strategies.

B2B

Make new connections on the go, anywhere you go with the World FZO B2B portal. Designed to help you find and connect to new business partners from all over the world, B2B lets you build and manage your profile, grow your network and maximize visibility, make powerful new connections and keep in touch with your Free Zone colleagues from across the globe. Learn More

Marketplace

In the World FZO marketplace, you will find a variety of offers from our partners and selected service providers, showcasing some of the world’s most powerful free-zone specific applications, products, solutions and services, all designed to help your free-zone thrive, globalize and maximize its potential. Learn More

FZ Outlook Events

From high caliber conferences and keynotes, to small group breakout sessions, business to business workshops, and a variety of other networking opportunities, World FZO’s action packed events are guaranteed to keep you coming back for more.

Support

The World Free Zones Organization (World FZO) provides a number of support services to members that enable them to enhance their operational performance. These include internationally accredited certifications,free zone community development programs, as well as support and advice for achieving ‘green status’ and developing smart, digitally-integrated free zones. More information on each of these services is below and through the World FZO members’ portal.

Future Ready Zones

The World FZO’s flagship community development program makes use of preferred partners and SME evolution program resources, including tool kits, and over 500 business learning videos. Topics covered in these resources include: strategy, leadership, talent development, brand and marketing, ICT, sales, project management, funding and investment, and all resources are hosted on the World FZO members’ portal.

Certifications & Awards

Are you looking for benchmarking your free zone to ensure that your efforts are being put in the areas of maximum impact? The World FZO certification programs help free zones measure their progress and success in the areas of sustainability, security, environment, and regulations. Through our partnerships with multilateral organizations and leading international consulting firms, we can help guide your efforts and reward your achievements. Learn More

Innovation

Given the strategic importance of free zones in global trade, they can play a vital role in the development of innovative fast growth businesses across the world. These businesses could create jobs and expand economies. World FZO can guide in the development of policies and programs that help spur innovation in your free zone and create the next business success stories. Learn More

Board of Directors

Name Position Portrait Biography
Dr. Mohammed Alzarooni Chairperson caption Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni is the Director General of the Dubai Airport Freezone (DAFZA), a role he has held since 1996. He is responsible for managing all strategic initiatives implemented by DAFZA management and in helping to expand the organization’s presence in faster-growing functional and geographical areas. Full Biography
Martin Ibarra Vice-Chairperson caption Martin Ibarra is the Honorary President and Founder of the Free Zones Association of the Americas (AZFA), a not-for-profit organization that supports the rights of free zones across the Americas through research and public and private partnerships. Full Biography
PC Nambiar Secretary caption Mr. P.C. Nambiar is the Secretary of the World FZO. He also currently works as the Chairman of the Export Promotion Council for Export Oriented Units and Special Economic Zones (EPCES), which was set up by the Government of India. He is also a member of the Managing Committee of Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO). Full Biography
Rose Hynes Treasurer caption Rose Hynes is Treasurer for the World Free Zones Organization and a founding board member. In her capacity as Treasurer, Ms. Hynes provides general financial oversight and advises the executive team on prudent financial management and planning. She also reports to the board on the World Free Zone Organization’s financial position. Full Biography
Julie Brown Board Director caption Julie Brown is a founding member of the board of directors of the World Free Zones Organization, serving in an advisory and oversight capacity. As part of this, Ms. Brown helps management to establish strategic goals and monitors the organization’s progress against set objectives. Full Biography
Kenneth Carlstedt Board Director caption ​​​Mr. Kenneth Carlstedt is a Board Director at the World FZO, bringing many years expe​rtise in tr​ade compliance, optimization and advocacy. He also currently works as a Global Trade Compliance Manager for Momentive, which is a global chemical and materials company. Full Biography
Isidoro Hodara Board Director caption Mr. Isidoro Hodara is a member of the Board of Directors at the World FZO. He has several decades of experience in international trade. He has advised a number of major organizations, including the Interamerican Development Bank, the UNDP and the Latin America Integration Association (ALADI), particularly in subjects related to Free Zones. Full Biography
Chris Ndibe Board Director caption Mr. Chris Ndibe is a Board Director at the World FZO. He also currently works as the CEO of Carlcon​ Group and is the Executive Director of the Africa Free Zones Association (AFZA), which is the umbrella body for all Free Trade Zones & Special Economic Zones in Africa. In addition, he works as a free zone consultant and communications expert. Full Biography
Dr. Juan Pablo Rivera Board Director caption Dr. Juan Pablo Rivera is a Board Director at the World FZO. He is an Industrial Engineer from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, a specialist in Mass Consumption Marketing from the Universidad ICESI and Executive MBA from the Universidad de los Andes. Full Biography
Jose Luis Rodriguez Board Director caption José Luis Rodríguez is International Development Director and Free Zone Director of Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona (Spain) the city’s logistics hub. In this role, Rodriguez is responsible for the operation of the Free Zone and the development of the international business of Consorci de la Zona Franca, working together with the with the Customs Authority to ensure goods are processed safely, quickly and efficiently. Full Biography
Mehdi Tazi-Riffi Board Director caption Mehdi Tazi-Riffi is a board member at Tanger Med Special Agency (TMSA), heading the development its Industrial Platform which encompasses 650 companies representing a yearly export turnover of EUR 4 billion in the Automotive, Aeronautics, Logistics and Textile sectors. Full Biography
Francois Bost Board Director caption François Bost is a Professor of Economic Geography at the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne (URCA), France. He is also member of the laboratory HABITER (EA 2076). A specialist in globaliz​​ation of the economy, Bost’s studies have centered on free zones and export processing zones since 1999. Full Biography
Nasser Al Madani Board Director caption Nasser Al Madani is the Assistant Director General at Dubai Airport Freezone (DAFZA), a position he has held since November 2007. He brings a wealth of HR expertise to the Free zone, as well as extensive experience in the promotion and operations of free zones. As a part of the senior management, he is actively involved in setting and implementing several strategic initiatives to assure the continuous growth of DAFZA. Full Biography