Dubai, United Arab Emirates – 17 April 2019: The World Free Zones Organization (World FZO) in cooperation with El Consorci de la Zona Franca (CZFB), has announced the themes and topics of its fifth Annual International Conference and Exhibition 2019 (AICE) taking place in Barcelona, Spain between 26 and 28 June 2019.
The announcement came during a press conference in the Spanish city of Barcelona which highlighted the important role that free zones play in supporting global supply and value chains. The event also highlighted the direct contribution free zones have in strengthening trade movement and growth of economic activities around the world.
Under the overarching theme of Free Zone 4.0 meets Economy 4.0, the fifth AICE will address solutions to combatting illicit trade in free zones and will present tools to measure and track prosperity in free zones around the globe. The event will also examine the challenges raised by e-commerce, explore the impact of a shifting political landscape on free zone activity and assess ways to strengthen the global value chain through free zones and beyond. The AICE will also host large plenary sessions, panel discussions as well as parallel workshops and an extensive exhibition of free zones from around the world.
World FZO Chairman Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni, said: “The Annual International Conference and Exhibition is a chance for all members of the World Free Zones Organization to exchange views, opinions, best practices and experiences, as well as discuss the challenges facing free zones around the world in achieving its strategic goals in supporting national economy plans.”
An estimated 2,200 free zones support almost 70 million jobs around the world. These zones are increasingly involved in international supply chains and global value chains, yet they face a number of local challenges.
“The World Free Zones Organization inaugurated ten regional offices during our last conference,” added Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni, “Hosted by local free zones, these offices will deliver regional events and programs, ensuring complete cultural and socio-economic relevance in all local endeavors.”
Dr. Al Zarooni announced the launch of several pioneering initiatives by the World FZO, including an Open University, in partnership with the University of Dubai, which will be a center for research and executive education and training for free zone professionals. He also announced a Safe Zone certification program to combat illicit trade and to promote oversight and transparency in free zones in line with World Customs Organization and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) guidelines.
Dr. Al Zarooni announced the launch of the Free Zone of the Future Program with its associated Izdihar Index, a set of metrics to assess each free zone against its achievable potential to promote transparent best practices, an innovative spirit and sustainable procedures.
The AICE is held on alternate years in either Dubai, where the World FZO is headquartered, or a foreign location. The choice of Barcelona in 2019 was ideal for Pere Navarro, Chairman of El Consorci de la Zona Franca. He explained that Barcelona was the right choice “because of its close links to the Customs Authority and its promotional role for Catalonia and Spain in the exhibition, logistics and real estate sectors. CZFB is uniquely and relevantly positioned to host the World Free Zones Organization annual event.”
The last edition of the Annual International Conference and Exhibition was held in Dubai last year under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and attended by H.H. Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai. Over 1,100 people from 71 countries attended the event.
Attended by more than 1091 representatives and experts from more than 71 countries, AICE concluded with the Dubai Declaration, a commitment to greater cooperation between international free zones for enhanced safety and security of trade and the global supply chain, bringing prosperity to people around the world. The Declaration, signed by representatives from 57 countries, will introduce the World FZO Safe Zone concept - a code of conduct model for free zones; encouraging enhanced management and monitoring of the entire supply chain; as well as increased information sharing between all stakeholders.