Economic Zones

Exploring Special Economic Zones in Disputed Territories

Though most special economic zones are located on uncontroversial land, there are several in areas subject to international disputes.
,  
October 27, 2021
October 27, 2021

Though most special economic zones are located on uncontroversial land, there are several in areas subject to international disputes.

The most common such special economic zones are those located in jurisdictions with limited, but widespread international recognition. 

Kosovo

Having declared independence in 2008 following the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia, Kosovo is a majority-Albanian region formerly part of Serbia. It is not a member of the United Nations, but has achieved widespread recognition, particularly by the US, EU states, and their allies, against the objections of Serbia and Russia. 

Kosovo has numerous Business Parks, Technologic Parks, Agro-industrial Zones, and Industrial Parks, all of which are managed by the Republic of Kosovo with no input from Serbia.

Taiwan (Republic of China)


Port of Kaohsiung in Taiwan

A territory off the coast of China, Taiwan is frequently used to reference not only the eponymous island, but the entire territory controlled by the Republic of China (ROC) including Kinmen and Matsu. They comprise the last holdouts of the ROC government that fled mainland China following the 1949 communist victory in the civil war. In the ensuing decades, Taiwan functioned, and continues to function, as an independent state (albeit with declining international recognition), but has stopped short of declaring independence. 

Taiwan is home to an abundance of special economic zones, including the Port Of Taipei Free Trade Zone, Kaohsiung Export Processing Zone, Taoyuan International Airport Free Trade Zone, and many others. The People’s Republic of China has no jurisdiction over them. 

Palestine

Located in the southwestern Levant west of the Jordan River, Palestine has historically referred to the entire region up to the Mediterranean Sea. However, the State of Palestine, declared in 1988, officially claims the discontiguous territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which are under varying degrees of military occupation or blockade by Israel. Palestine is an observer state of the United Nations and is recognized by most, but not all, of its members. 

The Palestinian Industrial Estate and Free Zone Authority (PIEFZA) manages, with assistance and funding from the United Nations, the European Union, and Japan, special economic zones in Jenin, Bethlehem, Jericho, and Gaza. Despite the limited jurisdiction of Palestine’s internationally-recognized government, the Palestinian Authority, over these areas, the zones remain at least nominally under PIEFZA’s control, while still needing to abide by Israeli and Egyptian export restrictions.

Other special economic zones are located in areas disputed between fully-recognized states.

Crimea

The Swallow’s Nest on Crimea’s coast

Annexed by Russia in 2014, the Crimean Peninsula was previously part of Ukraine since Ukraine gained independence in 1991. Most countries do not recognize the annexation and maintain that Crimea is part of Ukraine. 

However, the Free Economic Zone of the Republic of Crimea and the Federal City of Sevastopol is, like the rest of Crimea, managed by Russia. The Ukrainian government “abolished” the zone, thus refusing to recognize its unique status.

Gilgit-Baltistan

Following the partition of India in 1947, the status of some territories remain unresolved. Kashmir and the neighboring lands ended up divided by the de-facto Line of Control (LOC) between India and Pakistan. The mountainous area of Gilgit-Baltistan is on the Pakistani side. Despite complete Pakistani control, Gilgit-Baltistan is technically not claimed by Pakistan, which maintains it is an autonomous territory. Meanwhile, India continues to claim it entirely. 

The Moqpondass Special Economic Zone is being developed by Pakistan and China in Gilgit-Baltistan over Indian objections

Finally, there are even some special economic zones in states that have almost no international recognition at all.

Donetsk People’s Republic

The aftermath of the success of the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine in 2014 saw the formation of Russian-backed rebel groups in eastern Ukraine. They proclaimed independent republics in Donetsk and Luhansk, though they remain unrecognized by UN-member states (including Russia itself). 

There is a special economic zone in Donetsk, but it remains inactive

Rojava (Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria)

Beginning in 2013, in the midst of Syria’s civil war, Kurdish-dominated militias (primarily the YPG), have established autonomous cantons in the country’s north. They are organized in a confederation often referred to as Rojava. The local political situation is complex, with power shared by the YPG and other militias, as well as the Syrian military. Meanwhile, part of the region is also occupied by Turkey or controlled by Turkish-backed militias following the 2019 Turkish offensive. Rojava has no international recognition and considers itself to be a confederation of cantons within Syria rather than an independent state.

Al Yarubiyah Free Zone, located on the Iraqi border, is now adjacent to a YPG-administered border crossing considered unauthorized by the Syrian government.

Somaliland


Berbera Port in Somaliland

Formed in the northern areas of Somalia once part of a British protectorate, Somaliland was created in 1991 following a civil war. The Isaaq, the region’s dominant clan, seceded from Somalia in response to marginalization, persecution, and eventually mass muder. Somaliland has no international recognition but maintains contacts with numerous countries, particularly Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates.

Ethiopia uses Somaliland’s capital and port city of Berbera to gain access to the sea. The Berbera Economic Free Zone is located adjacent to the port.

Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

Cyprus, historically home to both a Turkish and a Greek population, experienced a coup attempt aimed at unification with Greece followed by a Turkish invasion in 1974. Turkey gained a foothold in the north, leading to population exchanges and the ethnic homogenization of both parts of the island. In 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) declared independence, but unrecognized except by Turkey. 

The TRNC is home to the Famagusta Free Port and Zone.

Tags
Economic Zones

Exploring Special Economic Zones in Disputed Territories

Though most special economic zones are located on uncontroversial land, there are several in areas subject to international disputes.
,  
October 27, 2021
October 27, 2021

Though most special economic zones are located on uncontroversial land, there are several in areas subject to international disputes.

The most common such special economic zones are those located in jurisdictions with limited, but widespread international recognition. 

Kosovo

Having declared independence in 2008 following the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia, Kosovo is a majority-Albanian region formerly part of Serbia. It is not a member of the United Nations, but has achieved widespread recognition, particularly by the US, EU states, and their allies, against the objections of Serbia and Russia. 

Kosovo has numerous Business Parks, Technologic Parks, Agro-industrial Zones, and Industrial Parks, all of which are managed by the Republic of Kosovo with no input from Serbia.

Taiwan (Republic of China)


Port of Kaohsiung in Taiwan

A territory off the coast of China, Taiwan is frequently used to reference not only the eponymous island, but the entire territory controlled by the Republic of China (ROC) including Kinmen and Matsu. They comprise the last holdouts of the ROC government that fled mainland China following the 1949 communist victory in the civil war. In the ensuing decades, Taiwan functioned, and continues to function, as an independent state (albeit with declining international recognition), but has stopped short of declaring independence. 

Taiwan is home to an abundance of special economic zones, including the Port Of Taipei Free Trade Zone, Kaohsiung Export Processing Zone, Taoyuan International Airport Free Trade Zone, and many others. The People’s Republic of China has no jurisdiction over them. 

Palestine

Located in the southwestern Levant west of the Jordan River, Palestine has historically referred to the entire region up to the Mediterranean Sea. However, the State of Palestine, declared in 1988, officially claims the discontiguous territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which are under varying degrees of military occupation or blockade by Israel. Palestine is an observer state of the United Nations and is recognized by most, but not all, of its members. 

The Palestinian Industrial Estate and Free Zone Authority (PIEFZA) manages, with assistance and funding from the United Nations, the European Union, and Japan, special economic zones in Jenin, Bethlehem, Jericho, and Gaza. Despite the limited jurisdiction of Palestine’s internationally-recognized government, the Palestinian Authority, over these areas, the zones remain at least nominally under PIEFZA’s control, while still needing to abide by Israeli and Egyptian export restrictions.

Other special economic zones are located in areas disputed between fully-recognized states.

Crimea

The Swallow’s Nest on Crimea’s coast

Annexed by Russia in 2014, the Crimean Peninsula was previously part of Ukraine since Ukraine gained independence in 1991. Most countries do not recognize the annexation and maintain that Crimea is part of Ukraine. 

However, the Free Economic Zone of the Republic of Crimea and the Federal City of Sevastopol is, like the rest of Crimea, managed by Russia. The Ukrainian government “abolished” the zone, thus refusing to recognize its unique status.

Gilgit-Baltistan

Following the partition of India in 1947, the status of some territories remain unresolved. Kashmir and the neighboring lands ended up divided by the de-facto Line of Control (LOC) between India and Pakistan. The mountainous area of Gilgit-Baltistan is on the Pakistani side. Despite complete Pakistani control, Gilgit-Baltistan is technically not claimed by Pakistan, which maintains it is an autonomous territory. Meanwhile, India continues to claim it entirely. 

The Moqpondass Special Economic Zone is being developed by Pakistan and China in Gilgit-Baltistan over Indian objections

Finally, there are even some special economic zones in states that have almost no international recognition at all.

Donetsk People’s Republic

The aftermath of the success of the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine in 2014 saw the formation of Russian-backed rebel groups in eastern Ukraine. They proclaimed independent republics in Donetsk and Luhansk, though they remain unrecognized by UN-member states (including Russia itself). 

There is a special economic zone in Donetsk, but it remains inactive

Rojava (Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria)

Beginning in 2013, in the midst of Syria’s civil war, Kurdish-dominated militias (primarily the YPG), have established autonomous cantons in the country’s north. They are organized in a confederation often referred to as Rojava. The local political situation is complex, with power shared by the YPG and other militias, as well as the Syrian military. Meanwhile, part of the region is also occupied by Turkey or controlled by Turkish-backed militias following the 2019 Turkish offensive. Rojava has no international recognition and considers itself to be a confederation of cantons within Syria rather than an independent state.

Al Yarubiyah Free Zone, located on the Iraqi border, is now adjacent to a YPG-administered border crossing considered unauthorized by the Syrian government.

Somaliland


Berbera Port in Somaliland

Formed in the northern areas of Somalia once part of a British protectorate, Somaliland was created in 1991 following a civil war. The Isaaq, the region’s dominant clan, seceded from Somalia in response to marginalization, persecution, and eventually mass muder. Somaliland has no international recognition but maintains contacts with numerous countries, particularly Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates.

Ethiopia uses Somaliland’s capital and port city of Berbera to gain access to the sea. The Berbera Economic Free Zone is located adjacent to the port.

Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

Cyprus, historically home to both a Turkish and a Greek population, experienced a coup attempt aimed at unification with Greece followed by a Turkish invasion in 1974. Turkey gained a foothold in the north, leading to population exchanges and the ethnic homogenization of both parts of the island. In 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) declared independence, but unrecognized except by Turkey. 

The TRNC is home to the Famagusta Free Port and Zone.

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