The Ibero-American Free Zones Want to Consolidate Themselves as Essential Economic Hubs
The 26th edition of the Ibero-American Free Zone Conference, promoted by the Association of Free Trade Zones Association of the Americas and the Consorci de la Zona Franca from Barcelona(CZFB), with the collaboration of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Global Alliance of Special Economic Zones (GASEZ), has started today at the DFactory Barcelona, the technological hub led and promoted by the CZFB.
Opening ceremony of the 26th edition
The XXVI Conference of the Free Zones of Ibero-America began at 9:30 a.m. with an opening ceremony in which Claudia Pellerano, president of the Free Trade Zones Association of the Americas, participated; Pere Navarro, special delegate of the State in the Barcelona Free Zone Consortium (CZFB) and Mohammed Al Zarooni, president of the World Free Zones Organization (WFZO).
Pere Navarro opened the conference by explaining that “the CZFB is oriented to the world, especially the Mediterranean and Atlantic world. We have a very good relationship with Latin America, which is based on common interests, participation in events, and political alliances, governance, business opportunities... we are very satisfied that you have decided to celebrate this day here today. at the DFactory Barcelona”.
In his turn, Mohammed Al Zarooni highlighted that “together with the Free Trade Zones of Ibero-America we are creating new opportunities and new collaborations for the sector. Collaborations that help promote and advance regional economies and global economic development.”
Claudia Pellerano closed the official inauguration by stating that “free zones are economic spaces dedicated to generating employment and then creating employment that contributes to education and sustainability; in attracting foreign investment that helps sow the seed that is replicated in the transfer of technology and education. It is clear that we are part of an ecosystem that has to contribute beyond our factories, to the sustainable development of the region.”
Free zones as axes of change
The featured session of this first day was 'Showcase: Free zones as axes of change', where four Free Zones were presented that is an engine of change for their regions, their communities, and their economic, social, and environmental development. The first case is Campuslands, presented by Andrea Serrano, general manager of Zona Franca Santander in Colombia. Serrano highlighted that “Campuslands is a training model for young exporters of digital talent, who in 10 months manage to train in a technological field, at a lower cost for companies and with 100% employability at the end of the course. The program is focused on young people without resources, mothers who are heads of families, young people with disabilities from public schools, and covering 80% of the basic strata of the social pyramid of Colombia." She ended her presentation by highlighting that her purpose is to “create stratum D, a new digital social stratum, with higher monthly incomes and that represents a generational change in its social scale in just 5 years. In this first edition, we have trained 120 people, with the expectation of reaching 1000 each next year. In this way, we want to close the gap in programmers that Latin America has.”
The second example is been La Lima Free Zone & Business Park, presented by Fernando Carazo, general manager of La Lima Free Zone in Costa Rica. It is a modern industrial park and business center that began operating in December 2014. An environmentally sustainable project that wants to generate jobs and opportunities for society. For example, it has a robotics program for local schools and a Community Computer Center operated by the local association that trains members of local communities in basic computer skills. According to Carazo, the free zone is “an engine of change for different aspects: for social mobility, sustainable mobility, environmental and energy efficiency and the closing of educational gaps through the Actualiza Program, an alliance that has an impact on more than 11,000 boys and girls per year” among other programs.
Juan Carlos Botero, general manager of the Pacific Free Trade Zone in Colombia, has presented the third case dedicated to the Pacific Free Zone, understood as an axis of change and sustainable development. This is dedicated to the diversification of sectors and multi-sector exports. As Botero explained, “The private industrial park has clusters of textile, agribusiness, pharmaceutical, food, biosecurity, graphic printing companies... with exports to more than 68 countries of more than 250 different references/products. The Pacific Free Trade Zone is an example of economic development, sustainable development, and social contribution.”
Finally, the case of Zona Franca Cadiz and its Incubazul project understood as the blue economy hub of Spain, has been presented. Francisco González, special delegate of the State in the Consorcio Zona Franca from Cadiz, has stated that “the Consortium is one of the main economic drivers of the province, and we create a new industrial model aligned with sustainable mobility, care for the environment, use of renewable energies and optimization of infrastructure, based on the blue economy. After analyzing everything we have, such as port logistics and maritime transport, marine resources, biotechnology, tourism linked to the sea, and innovation...we created the Incubazul project, a project that aims to be a benchmark in the Blue Economy in all of Spain and in which the circumstances are favorable to attract and promote talent and ideas with the main focus on the seas and oceans.”