The Free Zones World Economic Barometer study has revealed that free zones across the globe are all gearing up to overcome the challenges of the third-wave of COVID-19 pandemic and soon hopefully the post-pandemic world as well.
The business in the free zones was first stalled due to the pandemic but has seen tremendous progress since then. The study revealed that 40 percent of free zone organizations expressed a positive outlook on their performances during the last quarter of 2020 and remain hopeful for the same trend to follow in the first quarter of 2021.
The survey showed that 49% of free zones which were surveyed reported “normal economic conditions” in the third quarter of 2020, which has since then risen up to 51% in the latest survey conducted in December 2020.
The chairman of World FZO, Dr. Mohammed Al Zaryoni, said:
Amidst the pandemic, free zones have been doing their best to ensure business continuity and resume normal activities. As with challenges, we also see the opportunities as economies work towards greater regional coordination and integration with the support of policy reforms and use of latest technologies.
“Alongside these developments, free zones can be the most ‘future ready’ if they focus on recovering in the most sustainable way based on greater transparency in their environment, social and governance commitment. Moreover, aligning their operations with the UN Sustainable Development Goals presents new opportunities to advance growth ambitions and societal development as well,” Dr. Al Zarooni added.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a wake-up call for all the various businesses and showcased their inability to withstand the sudden paradigm shift. This has led to businesses becoming more self-aware and is already preparing for any such events in the future.
In light of that, Dr. Hamrouni explained:
We have created a range of certification programs and a range of unique resources that can help free zones flourish in different situations, considering a futuristic approach and long-term perspective. The pandemic has undoubtedly prompted all of us to become more proactive in our strategies, and these projects will assist free zones to achieve a new set of global norms that will benefit stakeholders worldwide.
Whereas Dr. Guruswamy claimed that the pandemic has actually helped businesses seek a different methodology which might have taken years otherwise and embraced all the new methods to attract customers, communicate, and effectively utilize the work-from-home strategy which has the potential to undercut a lot of investment.
“Our New World Model, which we also call the ‘New Normal,’ provides a path for businesses to emerge stronger from the crisis. The revamp necessitates a shift in mindset, with a focus on collaboration rather than competition, greater inclusion, continuous innovation, and reflection of ESG principles. With a greater emphasis on sustainability while operating, the new strategies envision a transformation in the production network and a new industrial revolution driven by digitalization,” he noted.
Expressing her optimism, Meuchelbock said: “Despite a drop in economic sentiment as a result of Covid-19, the free zones took proactive measures to mitigate the effects of the pandemic by focusing on digitalization, communication on awareness, and increasing online presence while revising value proposition and long-term strategies.”