Special Economic Zones in Africa: An Overview of Policies and Regulatory Regimes
Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are delimited zones in which industrial development is promoted by incentives and support programmes designed to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) and promote exports. To be successful, the target sectors and investors of the SEZs are selected according to the country’s comparative advantage and value proposition. In recent years, SEZs have been responsible for the creation of more than 60 million jobs in multiple sectors, such as the agro-processing and manufacturing industries. SEZs also stimulate labour productivity and skills improvement.
This trade brief discusses the different policies and regulatory regimes that are established in order to make SEZs successful and attract foreign investment. As the zones enjoy a more liberal administration, they create different rules from the national legislation regarding investment conditions, international trade law and labour law. Additionally, this brief discusses national labour law and its application by the SEZs to ensure decent work. Women represent a high percentage of African SEZs workers, but they are also more vulnerable to the breach of national requirements for labour protection.
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