FREE TRADE ZONES
A free trade zone (FTZ) or Export processing zone (EPZ) is one or more areas of a country where tariffs and quotas are eliminated and bureaucratic requirements are lowered in order to attract companies by raising the incentives for doing business there. Free trade zones can be defined as labor intensive manufacturing centers that involve the import of raw materials or components and the export of factory products.
Most FTZs are located in developing countries. They are special zones where (some) normal trade barriers such as import or export tariffs do not apply, bureaucracy is typically minimized by outsourcing it to the FTZ operator and corporations setting up in the zone may be given tax breaks as an additional incentive. Usually, these zones are set up in underdeveloped parts of the host country, the rationale being that the zones will attract employers and thus reduce poverty and unemployment and stimulate the area's economy. These zones are often used by multinational corporations to set up factories to produce goods (such as clothing or shoes).
In 2002 there were 43 million people working in about 3000 FTZs spanning 116 countries producing clothes, shoes, sneakers, electronics, and toys. The basic objectives of EPZs are to enhance foreign exchange earnings, develop export-oriented industries and to generate employment opportunities.
The creation of special free-trade zones is criticized as giving business which set up operations under influence of already corrupt governments, and as giving foreign corporations more economic liberty than is given ordinary citizens, who face large and sometimes insurmountable "regulatory" hurdles in most third-world nations. Because the multinational corporation is able to choose between many underdeveloped or depressed countries in setting up an overseas factory, and most of these countries do not have limited governments, bidding wars of sorts erupt between their governments.
Often the government pays part of the initial cost of factory setup, loosens environmental protections and rules regarding negligence and the treatment of workers, and promises not to ask payment of taxes for the next few years. When the taxation-free years are over the corporation which set up the factory without fully assuming its costs is often able to set up operations elsewhere for less expense than the taxes to be paid, giving it leverage to take the host government to the bargaining table with more demands in order for it to continue operations in the country.
The widespread use of free trade zones by companies such as Nike has received criticism from numerous writers such as Naomi Klein in her No logo book..
Mercosur or Mercosul (Spanish: Mercado Común del Sur, Portuguese: Mercado Comum do Sul, English: Southern Common Market) is a RTA (Regional Trade Agreement) between Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Paraguay, founded in 1991 by the Treaty of Asunción, which was later amended and updated by the 1994 Treaty of Ouro Preto. Its purpose is to promote free trade and the fluid movement of goods, peoples, and currency.
Mercosur origins trace back to 1985 when Presidents of Argentina Raúl Alfonsín and Brazil José Sarney signed the Argentina-Brazil Integration and Economics Cooperation Program or PICE (Spanish: Programa de Integración y Cooperación Económica Argentina-Brasil).
Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru currently have associate member status. Venezuela signed its membership agreement on 17 June 2006, and became a full member on July 4 of the same year. The organization has a South and Central America integration vocation.
Mercosur Regional Trade Agreement Members
Role and potential
Some South Americans see Mercosur as giving the capability to combine resources to balance the activities of other global economic powers, perhaps especially the United States and the European Union. The organization could also potentially pre-empt the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA); however, over half of the current Mercosur member countries rejected the FTAA proposal at the IV Cumbre de las Américas (IV Summit of the Americas) in Argentina in 2005. However, development of the South American Community of Nations seems to suggest that the countries of South America are not opposed to regional integration but merely wary of the United States backed FTAA.
The development of Mercosur was arguably weakened by the collapse of the Argentine economy in 2001 and it has still seen internal conflicts over trade policy, between Brazil and Argentina, Argentina and Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil, etc.
In December 2004 it signed a cooperation agreement with the Andean Community trade bloc (CAN) and they published a joint letter of intention for a future negotiations towards integrating all of South America. The prospect of increased political integration within the organization, as per the European Union and advocated by some, is still uncertain.
There are more than 220 million people in this region and the combined Gross Domestic Product of the member nations is more than one trillion dollars a year.
FTA with third parties
Recently, with the new cooperation agreement with Mercosur, the Andean Community gained four new associate members: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. These four Mercosur members were granted associate membership by the Andean Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in an enlarged session with the Commission (of the Andean Community) on 7 July 2005. This move reciprocates the actions of Mercosur which granted associate membership to all the Andean Community nations by virtue of the Economic Complementarity Agreements (Free Trade agreements) signed between the CAN and individual Mercosur members.
On 30 December 2005 Colombian president Álvaro Uribe signed a law that ratifies an FTA with Mercosur and gives Colombian products preferential access to a market of 230 million people. Colombian entrepreneurs will also be able to import materials and capital goods from Mercosur at lower costs due to reduced tariffs resulting from the agreement.
The agreement's asymmetry clauses favor Colombia because it allows the gradual and progressive reduction of tariffs and likewise gives Colombia the opportunity to gradually reform its production system to adapt it to the requirements of the future negotiations within the scheme of Mercosur and the South American Community of Nations.
THE JAMAICAN FREE ZONES
The Jamaican Free Zones are a government initiative to encourage foreign investment. Businesses operating within these zones have no tax on their profits, duty exemption on imports and exports, and relaxed customs procedures. However, they must export 85% of their produce outside of CARICOM.
Created under the Jamaica Export Free Zones Act the zones are operated by the government. Businesses that operate in the zones must be in the fields of warehousing and storing, manufacturing, redistribution, processing, refining, assembling, packaging, and also service operations. These businesses gain 100% tax holiday in perpetuity, no import licensing requirements, and exemption from customs duties on capital goods, raw materials, construction materials, and office equipment.
Jamaica has four free trade zones but companies outside of the zones can apply for Free Zone status as Single Entity Free Zones. The government initially used the zones to promote the garment and related industry, this push expanded to information technology in the 1990s with addition clauses added to the act in 1996.
From 1985-1995 the combined export output of the zones in textiles was US $1.31 billion. Around 12,000 people were employed in the textile factories, about 1.6% of the total workforce. However since 1995 the industry has been in a serious depression due to structural problems in Jamaica and increased foreign competition.
The first free zone created was the Kingston Free Zone (KFZ) in 1976 on ground adjacent to the Kingston Container Terminal. The 180,000 square metre site contains 72,835 square metres of factory space. The other major free zones are Montego Bay Free Zone (MBFZ), Garmex Free Zone, Hayes Free Zone, and Cazoumar Free Zone.
WTO rule changes agreed at Doha will end export subsidies in 2007.
The free zones have been attacked as US subsidised "sweatshops", the minimum wage is US $30 a week.
SHANNON FREE ZONE
Shannon Free Zone is a 2.43 square kilometre, 600 acre, International business park adjacent to Shannon International Airport, County Clare, Ireland. Businesses based on the site enjoy a very attractive tax package on their profits. This has served to attract a large number of multinational companies. Currently there are over 120 international firms and 7,500 people employed at Shannon Free Zone in a diverse range of activities. Companies who have invested at Shannon include Avocent, GE Capital, Hard Metal Machine Tools-ISCAR, Ingersoll Rand, Intel, Lufthansa Technik, Mentor Graphics, Molex, RSA Security and Veritas Software.
Shannon Development is an Irish government agency whose aims are to establish foreign direct investment on the Shannon Free Zone and to support existing foreign enterprises in expanding their businesses here.
Shannon Development assists with:
ANDEAN COMMUNITY OF NATIONS
The Andean Community of Nations (in Spanish: Comunidad Andina de Naciones, abbreviated CAN) is a trade bloc comprising the South American countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela (which is in the process of leaving the bloc). The trade bloc was called the Andean Pact until 1996 and came into existence with the signing of the Cartagena Agreement in 1969. Its headquarters are located in Lima, Peru.
The Andean Community has 120 million inhabitants living in an area of 4,700,000 square kilometers, whose Gross Domestic Product amounted to US$745.3 billion in 2005, including Venezuela.
The original Andean Pact was founded in 1969 by Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. In 1973 the pact gained its sixth member, Venezuela. However, in 1976 its membership was again reduced to five when Chile withdrew. Finally in 2006, Venezuela also announced its withdrawal, reducing the Andean Community to 4 member states.
Recently, with the new cooperation agreement with Mercosur, the Andean Community gained four new associate members: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. These four Mercosur members were granted associate membership by the Andean Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in an enlarged session with the Commission (of the Andean Community) on July 7, 2005. This moves reciprocates the actions of Mercosur which granted associate membership to all the Andean Community nations by virtue of the Economic Complementarity Agreements (Free Trade agreements) signed between the CAN and individual Mercosur members. 
Relationship with other organizations
The Andean Community together with Mercosur comprises the two main trading blocs of South America. In 1999 these organizations began negotiating a merger with a view to creating a South American Free Trade Area (SAFTA). On December 8, 2004 it signed a cooperation agreement with Mercosur and they published a joint letter of intention for future negotiations towards integrating all of South America in the context of the South American Community of Nations, patterned after the European Union.
During 2005, Venezuela decided to join Mercosur. Venezuela's official position first appeared to be that, by joining Mercosur, further steps could be taken towards integrating both trade blocs. CAN Secretary General Allan Wagner stated that the Venezuelan Foreign Minister Alí Rodríguez had declared that Venezuela did not intend to leave the CAN, and its simultaneous membership to both blocs marked the beginning of their integration.
However some analysts interpreted that Venezuela might eventually leave the CAN in the process.  This prediction seems to have been finally verified in April 2006, with Venezuelan President Chávez's announcement of his country's withdrawal from the Andean Community after stating that, as Colombia and Peru have signed free trade agreements (FTAs) with the United States, the Community is "dead".  Officials in Colombia and Peru have expressed their disagreement with this view, as did representatives from Venezuela's industrial sector (Conindustria). 
Despite this announcement, Venezuela has yet to formally complete all the necessary withdrawal procedures. According to Venezuela's Commerce Minister María Cristina Iglesias, the entire process will take up to five years. Until then, Venezuela and its partners remain bound by the effects of the community's preexisting commercial agreements. 
TRADE ZONES A - Z
Bangladesh Export Processing Zone
Calabar Free Trade Zone
Airport Free Zone
Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority www.jafza.co.ae
Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands
Shannon, County Clare, Ireland
GAFTA Trade Agreement Members
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