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BagamoyoThe government of Tanzania has announced that successful negotiation with Chinese officials will allow work to start on the $11bn Bagamoyo megaport this year, rather than January 2015, as originally scheduled.

The port is to be developed by China Merchants Holdings International, the world largest independent port operators. In the first phase of work, the quay, the container yards, the cargo terminals and all dredging work will be completed by 2017.

These facilities will then be expanded in stages over a period of 30 years, to give an eventual capacity of 20 million containers a year. This is likely to make the port the largest on the east coast of Africa, with a capability to handle roll on, roll off ships and container vessels with a 10,000 TEU capacity (these is, “new Panamax” ships that are too large to fit in the Panama Canal).

Underwriting the development is the discovery of some 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which is going to make the country a leading exporter over the next decade.

Bagamoyo is seen as a Tanzania’s trump card in the sharpening struggle with other east African companies for foreign investment, export markets, industrial development and business from landlocked countries in the interior.

In particular, Tanzania is competing with the Kenyan port of Mombasa for investment and the handling of exports from Uganda, Burundi, Zambia and Rwanda. Although it looks to be in the lead in terms of port infrastructure, Kenya has taken the lead in the development of effective rail links, and Mozambique is closer to bringing its liquid natural gas deposits to market.

When completed, the port will cover about 800 hectares. Around it will be a 1,700 hectare special economic zone. The intention is to encourage set up industries that process or refine Tanzania’s raw materials, such as coffee roasting or ore processing, thereby capturing more of the value chain.

Adelhelm Meru, the director general of the Export Processing Zones Authority, which will be in charge of the zone, told journalists in Dar es Salaam recently that he wanted to attract “industries specialising in value-addition of agricultural products” which he said had been a leading area of investment under the EPZA for the past six years. He said about 55% of industries established under the EPZA dealt in agricultural and textile processing.

The zone is expected to be fully developed by 2024. Source: Global Contruction Review

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Lagos Free Trade Zone

Lagos Free Trade Zone

So how come FTZs, IDZs, EPZs, etc are working in other African countries and not here in South Africa? This Day Live (Nigeria) offers some of the critical success factors which delineate such zones from the normal economic operations in a country. Are we missing the boat? The extent of economic and incentive offering can vary substantially between the different economic and trade zone models – some extremely liberal while others tend to the conservative. Obviously the more liberal and free the regulations are the more stringent the ‘guarantees’ and controls need to be. However, in today’s e-commercial world, risk to revenue can more than adequately be mitigated and managed with through risk management systems. Manufacturing and logistical supply chain operations are likewise managed in automated fashion. I guess the real issue lies in governments appetite for risk and more particularly its willingness to relax tax and labour laws within such zones. Furthermore, a sound economic roadmap demonstrating backward linkages to the local economy and outward linkages to international markets must be defined. Herein lies some of the difficulties which have plagued South African attempts at such economic offerings – no specific economic (export specific) goals. Limited financial/tax incentives for investors, and poor cooperation between the various organs of state to bring about a favourable investment climate.

Free Trade Zones (FTZs) are at the crux of the growth attributed to emerging markets. All the BRIC nations have used the FTZs as a buffer to economic meltdown particularly in the wake of the most recent financial and economic crises. The “great recession” of 2007 – 2009 saw the BRIC nations growing at the rates of 7% to 13%. Consequently, the importance of FTZs as well as maximizing opportunities therein cannot be over-emphasized. The literature defining FTZs vary, but they all have the following characteristics in common:

  • A clearly delimited and enclosed area of a national customs territory, often at an advantageous geographical location, with an infrastructure suited to the conduct of trade and industrial operations and subject to the principle of customs and fiscal segregation.
  • A clearly delineated industrial estate, which constitutes a free trade enclave in the customs and trade regime of a country, and where foreign manufacturing firms, mainly producing for export, benefit from a certain number of fiscal and financial incentives.
  • Industrial zones with special incentives set up to attract foreign investors, in which imported materials undergo some degree of processing before being re-exported.
  • Fulfilling their roles in having a positive effect on the host economy, regulators look at FTZs from a nationalist perspective. Inevitably, they seek the following benefits:
    • Creating jobs and income: one of the foremost reasons for the establishment of FTZs is the creation of employment.
    • Generating foreign exchange earnings and attracting foreign direct investment (FDI): measures designed to influence the size, location, or industry of a FDI investment project by affecting its relative cost or by altering the risks attached to it through inducements that are not available to comparable domestic investors are incentives to promoting FDI. Implicit in this statement lies the definition of FTZ. Other traits that are recognizable when discussing FDI’s include specially negotiated fiscal derogations, grants and soft loans, free land, job training, employment and infrastructure subsidies, product enhancement, R&D support and ad hoc exceptions and derogations from regulations. In addition to FDI, by promoting non-traditional exports, increased export earnings tend to have a positive impact on the exchange rate.
    • Transfer of technology: trans-national corporations (TNCs) are a dominant source of innovation and direct investment by them is a major mode of international technology transfer, possibly contributing to local innovative activities in host countries. It is a government’s primary obligation to its citizenry to provide attractive technology, innovative capacities and mastering, upgrading, and diffusing them throughout the domestic economy. Nevertheless, through national policies, international treaty making, market-friendly approaches, a host country gravitates from providing an enabling environment to stronger pro-innovation regimes that perpetually encourage technology transfer.

FTZs can be both publicly (i.e. government) and or privately owned and managed. Governments own the more traditional older zones, which tend to focus more on policy goals that are primarily socio-economic. They emphasize industry diversification, attracting FDI, job creation and the like. Privately-owned FTZs have the advantage of eliminating government bureaucracy, are more flexible, and are better prepared to deal with technological changes. The global trend towards privatization has made privately-run zones more popular and a number are highly successful. The role of government in the case of privately-run zones is to provide a competitive legal framework with attractive incentive packages that meet the World Trade Organization (WTO) requirements.

FTZ Operations in Nigeria

FTZs were established in 1991 in order to diversify Nigeria’s export activity that had been dominated by the hydrocarbon sector. By 2011, there were nine operational zones; ten under construction; and three in the planning stages. The governing legislation includes the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Act (NEPZA) and the Oil and Gas Export Free Zone Act (OGEFZA). Zones may be managed by public or private entities or a combination of both under supervision of the Authority. For the full article go to – This Day Live