AICE 2019 Barcelona - World FZO - Conference Report

Our report of the AICE 2019 conference that we attended in Barcelona, Spain
July 23, 2019
August 19, 2019

From the 26th until the 28th of June 2019 a delegation of representatives from Adrianople Group attended the WFZO’s 5th annual exhibition on free economic zones and special economic zones in Barcelona. The title of the conference was ‘’Free Zones 4.0 Meets Economy 4.0.’’ As such, many of the panel discussions focused on implementing novel technological solutions in FEZs and FEZ related processes and adapting the operations and business models of SEZs and FEZs to the rapidly changing world economy. 

As is to be expected of the WFZO, the speakers and attendees were all of excellent quality and repute, providing valuable, first-hand insights and experience as to the functioning of SEZs today. 

In addition to a variety of panels, the exhibition proved particularly interesting, with representatives and booths from companies extensively involved with SEZs such as the global, UAE-based shipping conglomerate DP world, as well as representatives of SEZs and SEZ regulatory bodies, such as the Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority or the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority.

There was a strong presence of SEZs and agencies in emerging markets such as Africa or markets not traditionally covered by the WFZO such as East Asia. At Adrianople Group we take particular interest in their work in China with the Region Office in China of World Free Zones Organization and the upcoming China WFZ Summit this October. 

Despite heightening geopolitical tensions in the far and middle east that could certainly affect the business of many companies and SEZs present, the focus of the event remained primarily on issues of adapting to new technologies and seeking out new business opportunities in the current environment. Despite this, issues relating to the world’s geopolitical situation were raised with several attendees and Adrianople Group plans to continue to keep a close eye on the effects geopolitical shifts may have on the business of several attendees. 

Overall, the conference was an incredibly useful experience, not only for expanding the knowledge of the attendees on the functioning of SEZs in the modern world but also as an opportunity to exchange knowledge, contacts and experiences. Adrianople Group will continue to keep a close eye on the continued work of The WFZO, their upcoming conferences in China and Dubai and the many excellent organizations that count themselves among its members.