World FZO launches global certification standard

world free zone certificaThe World Free Zones Organization (World FZO) has launched Safe Zone certification programme around the OECD’s Code of Conduct for Clean Free Trade Zones

Free zones are designed to facilitate the global flow of goods and services by offering simplified customs and compliance procedures to businesses operating within them. Free zones channel a quarter of annual global trade and employ almost 70mn people worldwide. With illicit trade affecting more than 15 per cent of global GDP, the need to keep such business out of free zones is more important than ever.

World FZO combines internationally-vetted third party site inspections with governance tools locally compatible with the World Customs Organization’s Authorized Economic Operator status.

The Safe Zone programme is the result of several sustained discussions with the OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade (TF-CIT) over the last two years. This led to the adoption of the OECD Code of Conduct for Clean Free Trade Zones as the backbone of the Safe Zone programme.

It aims to provide a solid framework for free zones to implement transparent governance tools that comply with broader international standards from the World Trade Organization and the World Customs Organization. These tools will improve free zone operations in areas of product safety, personnel training, and trade monitoring.

Dr. Mohammed Alzarooni, chairman of the World FZO, explained, “Safe Zone is a symbol, a signal to the business community that a free zone operates in complete compliance with international laws and regulations.”

A pilot programme has been successfully conducted in five zones: Le Freeport in Luxembourg, Bogota Free Zone in Colombia, Dubai Airport Free Zone in the UAE, Klaipeda Free Economic Zone Management Company in Lithuania, and El Consorci Zona Franca Barcelona in Spain. Based upon this successful trial run, the Safe Zone programme is now rolling out globally.

Dr Alzarooni added, “The whistle-blower system we have also put in place on the Safe Zone microsite will allow anonymous parties to report violations of the OECD Code of Conduct in any certified free zone.” Additional features will be added as the need arises, based on market demand and partner feedback. By combining voluntary compliance procedures with transparency tools and enhanced governance practices, the Safe Zone programme will usher in a new era of clean trade in free zones around the world.

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