There is a need for close collaboration between economies, as well as investments in using the right technologies in compliance and logistics, for free zones to thrive in today's competitive and global environment, experts have said at the first European Free Zones Summit in Skopje, North Macedonia.
The World Free Zones Organization (World FZO) partnered with the North Macedonia Free Zones Authority to hold the summit to bring together over 350 high ranking officials to discuss shared challenges, best practices and new collaborations amongst free zones of the region and beyond. Agreements were signed at the summit between the World FZO and nine partners, marking the launch of a National Contact Point program.
Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni, chairman of the World FZO, inaugurated the summit along with Dr. Koco Angjusev, deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Macedonia, and Aleksandar Madenovski, CEO of North Macedonia Free Zones Authority, as well as several ministers and government officials.
The discussions that took place during the summit tackled the topics of future challenges for free zones across continents, as well as potential solutions to support clean trade in free zones and the need to form large associations encompassing all types of free zones.
"We have introduced the Safe Zone certification in partnership with the World Customs Organization and in consultation with the OECD," explained Dr. Al Zarooni in his opening speech, where he outlined the many proposals that the World FZO had put forward to keep trade within free zones transparent and accountable.
As part of its efforts to develop stronger global relations, the World FZO also sign agreements, appointing National Contact Points (NCP) in key countries. These NCP's will coordinate research, knowledge sharing and information gathering at the local level.
The summit will become an annual event as it aims to bring together major free zone players from European territories to address timely subjects and contribute solutions together to promote their place in the global value chain. "As a tool for foreign investment, as a conduit to trade, as a solution to prosperous growth and as a framework for better business practices, free zones are unique," Dr. Al Zarooni confirmed, "and they are here to stay."