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A Note from Jean-Paul Gauthier, Secretary-General of WEPZA:

This is an exciting time for WEPZA.  Since its founding in 1978, we have always been a dynamic, flexible institution continually adapting to meet changing global demands.  We began as an inter-governmental organization under the U.N. Industrial Development Organization consisting of representatives from the many different zone regulatory agencies throughout the world.  Later, we transformed into a independent entity under the leadership of the Flagstaff Institute and we opened our membership to private zone operators, developers, and consultants.  Today, in the spirit of our dynamism and flexibility, we are transforming once again into a platform in which zone practitioners collaborate, share information, and offer practical assistance for our mutual benefit, for the benefit of zones world wide, and for the benefit of the communities and nations that rely on zones for employment and economic growth.

I am proud to be leading this organization, which is guided by the most experienced and talented zone practitioners and thinkers in the world.  We consist of experts representing private engineering firms, inter-governmental development institutions, academics, legal and policy consultants, and government officials.  We include the world's top economists and professors measuring the impact of zones on investors; on global, regional, and domestic markets; and on the residents and communities living in and around zones.  And, we include pioneers challenging us to consider bold and innovative uses and implementations of zones.

I believe that, by engaging our collective knowledge, WEPZA will be a major force guiding the development of zones into the 21st century.  Zones will always have a function as a testing-ground and pilot for beneficial reforms that are not yet politically possible on a national, regional, or international level.  As the world's first and leading association of zone experts, we will continue to shape the implementation and evolution of zones through formulating international best-practice standards and providing strategic technical assistance and training.  Through our efforts, we will ensure that zones lead the way in expanding opportunities for both investors and workers and in promoting the sustainable development of economies, people, and environments.

Specifically, we continue to pursue the mission passed down to us from the Flagstaff Institute:

  • "To research, discuss, publish and present information to support and improve the utility and effectiveness of special economic zones (SEZs) and related policy platforms, including through sustainable and responsible practices;
  • To encourage, foster and stimulate investment, trade and economic development, through the SEZs and related platforms;
  • To obtain and distribute reliable information and promote cooperation and exchange between countries and businesspeople involved with SEZs and related policy platforms; and
  • To acquaint and inform the public and various governmental agencies of the benefits of SEZs and related policy platforms.”

I invite you to explore this site further, browse our resources, look at our current membership, and consider joining us yourself if you are engaged in zones work.