His Excellency Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni, President of the World Organization of Free Zones, inaugurated the seventh edition of the Annual International Conference & Exhibition (AICE) 2021, which takes place virtually in Dubai from June 21 to 24, 2021. More of 100 leading keynote speakers and more than 4,000 policymakers, academics, multilateral organizations and global business leaders from more than 140 countries and territories gathered, as well as representatives of international free zones to share best practices and raise public awareness of the role of free zones and their contribution to economic growth.
Dr Mohammed Al Zarooni, President of World FZO, said: “The World Free Zone Organization remains committed to strengthening, enabling and improving the readiness of free zones for a more prosperous phase. This will be done by achieving economic, trade and investment integration between governments and international organizations, which ensure the sustainable growth of free zones. We look forward to continuing our role in finding ways to improve the performance of FTZs to meet the needs of future challenges and to develop a more compliant and valuable model for FTZs along the global value chain. .
“The conference is an ideal platform to discuss cooperation, investment and business opportunities that attendees can explore through panel discussions. They include the participation of representatives of governments, international organizations and free zones. We would like to support members and partners of the organization in the post-pandemic recovery phase and play a key role in creating a joint collaboration that achieves the required integration and interaction, ”added Dr. Al Zarooni.
Participants took part in an exclusive session titled “The Future of Global Value Chains”, where they discussed how business entities should respond to current challenges. They also discussed topics such as the role of free zones in building resilient value chains, increasing protectionism as a threat to the global economic legitimacy of free zones. Other topics that have been analyzed include safer free zones as catalysts for compliance and providers of predictability to more integrated value chains, discouraging illegal trade between sectors and signaling illegal activity. The group looked at vulnerabilities in supply chain systems, promoting sustainable management of resources and protection against forced labor and other human rights violations.
The second day of AICE 2021 began with a keynote address by Greg Hands, Minister of State for Trade Policy at the UK Department for International Trade (DIT). There was also a special guest interview with David Luna, CEO and President of Luna Global Networks & Convergence Strategies.
World FZO also held special discussions on “Free Zones and Customs – Towards a Renewed Partnership”, where delegates explored opportunities to promote better partnerships between Customs and Free Zones for the benefit of all stakeholders. They also participated in the theme “Technology Infusion to Ensure Safety and Compliance,” where they discussed how free zones should apply technology and promote transparency, while remaining fully compliant with their respective governments.
Dr Samir Hamrouni, CEO of World FZO, said: “Since the inception of WFZO seven years ago, our founding members have been united with the vision of bridging the gap between free zones around the world and helping each other to meet their challenges. We remain committed to providing our services throughout the pandemic to help free zones overcome challenges and prepare for the future. “
The four-day virtual event includes five panel discussions, four regional mini-events and eight webinars. Discussions focus on the way forward after the pandemic with the central idea that security and compliance in free zones is paramount for cleaner, more compliant and more valuable free zone models. The main topics of discussion include the future of global value chains, the opportunities to foster a stronger relationship between free zones and customs, the integration of technology to ensure security and compliance as well as the importance of measurement and standards and compliance of free zones with United Nations social development objectives.
The regional webinars are an extension of the roundtable from a regional perspective and deepened the discussion on the challenges faced in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas during the crisis and the unique roles that free zones can. play as we move into a post-pandemic world.
In addition, the webinars showcased several key World FZO initiatives, including a recently launched program to help businesses adjust to new market realities after the pandemic, called Empowering PME in Free Zones. As well as the World FZO Safe Zone Certificate program which has already gone through its pilot phase and aims to improve transparency with free zones to increase performance and protect companies in these zones. Other webinars focused on the challenges and opportunities of e-commerce created by the crises, particularly from a security and compliance perspective.
In addition to the sessions mentioned above, World FZO also hosted regional webinars during the first two days on the following topics: Empowering SMEs, Safe Zone program, e-commerce security and compliance, European free zones : the way forward, towards better security. European free zones and the future of free zones in the Western Balkans on the way to EU membership. Samir Hamrouni was among the dignitaries who hosted these webinars.
© Press release 2021