Zone Profile: Zona Franca de Barcelona
The Zona Franca de Barcelona (ZFB) is an industrial park with more than 10,000,000 m2 of industrial and urban land, in different stages of completion.
The Zona Franca de Barcelona (ZFB) is an industrial park with more than 10,000,000 m2 of industrial and urban land, in different stages of completion (1). It has more than 100 years of activity, managed by the Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona (CZFB), a public company established in 1916 as the first consortium in Spain, whose objective is to manage the assets of the ZFB and the Zona Franca Aduanera, as well as to promote the international projection of Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain in the logistics and real estate sectors.
The Barcelona City Council hosted an Economic Assembly in 1915 (2), an event where hundreds of people gathered to discuss the feasibility of the Free Trade Zone project. A year later, the Cortes authorized the creation of a free warehouse. As a result, in 1916 the CZFB was created, responsible for administering the ZFB.
1950 is one of the key dates in the development of the ZFB (2), with the arrival of SEAT, a company that designs, develops, manufactures, and markets automobiles in Spain, which began to build its huge plant that opened in 1953. Following SEAT's acquisition by the German automotive giant Volkswagen Group, the plant no longer produces cars but is instead now solely used as a press shop, stamping out metal body panels.
From there came the total consolidation of the Free Trade Zone as an industrial area in which more than 60 companies settled in 1967. (3) Today, more than 176 companies generate employment for more than 137,000 workers.
The ZFB is located in the Port of Sants-Montjuic district, in the city of Barcelona. It borders the C-31 highway, La Marina de Sants district, El Prat de Llobregat (Barcelona) and Hospitalet de Llobregat (Barcelona).
Line L10 of the Barcelona Metro, built in 2018, serves the Zona Franca and connects it to the center of Barcelona and its metropolitan area (4). Due to its strategic location, the ZFB has become the gateway from the European Union to North Africa and Latin America, as the area is 7km from the airport, 100m from the port, and 200m from the main freight railway station.
The ZFB has different commercial and administrative hubs, including the following:
- Customs Free Zone: an enclave designed for companies that seek to take advantage of competitive taxation policies.
- BP Building: a 7,600 m2 structure that is divided into four equal and independent modules: two belonging to Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB), one to the Barcelona Metropolitan Area (AMB), and another to CZFB. The building consists of seven floors with different types of surface areas ranging from 45m2 to 600m2.
- Free Trade Zone Service Center: The 13,000 m2 building offers office, commercial, and retail space, ranging from 60 to 400 m2. On the first floor, there is an arcade with catering services and offices of companies linked to planning, port activity, and customs, such as the headquarters of the metropolitan agency Barcelona Regional (BR). (1)
As of 2020, CZFB produced 9.112 billion euros worth of goods, contributing significantly to the country’s GDP,. This is the equivalent of 11% of the Barcelona Province’s GDP, 3.8% of Catalonia’s GDP, or 0.7% of Spain’s GDP. (5)
ZFB is divided into 3 macro sectors (5), 42% of the companies are dedicated to industry, 30% to logistics and 28% to services, each one of them contributes to the employment of 137,322 people, with 2.684 billion euros in fiscal returns within Catalonia (6).
Among the companies with the greatest economic impact, three sectors predominate the automotive industry with 63% of total business expenditure, mainly due to the activity of SEAT and Nissan; the chemical industry with 20% of total business expenditure, particularly with the activity of BASF and Quimidroga; and finally logistics with 4% of total business expenditure, with the activity of Schenker Logistics standing out. (5)
One of the CZFB's major commitments is to continue generating opportunities for the development of Industry 4.0, based on sustainability and innovation. In fact, 94.1% of companies are committed to social responsability (5):
As for the budget in 2021, the Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona foresees 8.6 million euros in profits earmarked for economic promotion and 26.9 million euros in investment. (7) In the last year, major investments have been made to develop benchmark initiatives that promote the industrial transformation of the metropolitan area of Barcelona and help project it globally.
The 3DFactory Incubator (7), supported by the Spanish Chambers of Commerce, is an example of those investments, since it is the first 3D high-tech business incubator in Europe, where more than 42 companies have already passed during its first year and it expects to reach 100 by 2024.
Likewise, the first phase of the DFactory BCN (8) was inaugurated in 2021, located in the ZFB. 17 million euros have been invested for the construction of a 17,000 m2 space that will host companies that want to set up in Barcelona to carry out Industry 4.0 activities. The second phase of this project will involve the development of an additional 72,500 m2 with an investment of 159 millions euros. (9)
All the free zones and most of the free warehouses located in the country are managed by Consortiums made up of local institutions and national public and private entities (City Councils, the State, the Government, Port Authorities, Customs Administrations, Chambers of Commerce, Confederation of Businessmen, and Savings Banks), which manage, plan and commercialize their infrastructure, under constant surveillance and inspection by the customs authorities.
In 1929, the Royal Decree-Law of June 11 was promulgated.(10) This settled everything related to the establishment and operation of the free trade zones and ports, in addition to determining the creation of the free trade zones of Barcelona and Cadiz, and foreseeing the creation of a third one in Vigo. (11)
When Spain joined the European Economic Community in 1986, it assumed all Community regulations. As of this accession, Spanish free zones and free warehouses became part of the Community customs territory.
The Community customs regulations do not distinguish in legal terms the difference between free zones and free warehouses, indeed, their regulation is identical, since it refers to free zones and free warehouses as parts of the customs territory of the Community. However, it is necessary to distinguish between "customs destination", "customs procedure" and "customs warehouse" in order to understand the different benefits and incentives offered by each. (11)
- Customs destination: According to Article 4.15 of the Community Customs Code (CCC), a customs-approved treatment or use of goods is defined as the following operations: a) placing the goods under a customs procedure, b) placing them in a free zone or free warehouse, c) re-exporting them outside the customs territory of the Community, d) destroying them, and e) abandoning them for the benefit of the treasury. (12)
- Customs procedures: Article 4.16 of the Community Customs Code (CCC) provides that a customs procedure is understood as the performance of one of the following activities: a) release for free circulation, b) transit, c) customs warehousing, d) inward processing, e) processing under customs control, f) temporary importation, g) outward processing, h) exportation. (12)
- Customs warehouse: this is one of the eight possible customs procedures. It is any place recognized by the customs authorities and subject to their control, where goods may be stored under established conditions. The peculiarity of the customs warehousing regime is that it allows the storage of non-Community goods in a customs warehouse, without these being subject to import duties, as well as Community goods that are subject to benefits from measures related to the export of goods.
In short, one of the main attractions of free zones and free warehouses is that they are configured as intermediate destinations because the goods can remain located there without the holder having to worry about the time of permanence until he decides to give them a final destination.
In 2019, the Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona (CZFB) decided to carry out an introspection exercise to focus its activity on three areas of action: business, innovation and sustainability. All new projects that have been implemented by ZFB (such as the 3DFactory and DFactory) have a direct impact on employment generation. For example, 500 people are expected to work at the DFactory, although 5,000 jobs will be generated indirectly. (6)
ZFB has a very promising future, 96.3% of its surface area is leased, an additional 2.9% is assigned to various projects, and 0.2% is considered a reserved area. (1) One of the current projects (started in 2021) is the Alliance for Dual Vocational Training (13). This is an educational model in which private companies and public schools share responsibility for student training.
The ZFB is also implementing a new strategy to adapt to new logistics activities and the needs of companies. The change has materialized with a 30% price reduction, in addition to making leasing conditions more flexible with rent subsidies for a period of 5 to 6 years in order to help companies overcome the crisis. (14)
See more about the Zona Franca de Barcelona in our Open Zone Map.
- Oportunidades para el futuro; Zona Franca Barcelona
- Una mirada a los cien años de la Zona Franca; El País
- Sobre CZFB; Zona Franca Barcelona
- L10 Sud; TMB
- Reporte Corporativo 2020; El Consorci
- La importancia del papel de la CZFB; 20 minutos
- El CZFB refuerza su papel de motor económico y social; El Economista
- El Consorci de la Zona Franca apuesta por la innovación y la “fabricación de oportunidades” invirtiendo más de 20 millones; La Razón
- La ZFB inaugurará en marzo el edificio Dfactory; Eje Prime
- Royal Decree Law 11 June, 1929; Boe.es
- Las Zonas y Depósitos Francos en España; Asociación de Zonas Francas
- Código Aduanero Comunitario; Agencia Tributaria
- ZFB: Oasis de talento, sostenibilidad e innovación; El Diario
- Barcelona actualiza su oferta industrial en la Zona Franca; ABC.es