Free trade zones: A Pandora’s box for illicit money

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October 7 2019

Governments around the world are increasingly turning to free trade zones (FTZs) as a means of promoting economic growth and investment: Ghana recently signed an agreement with Iran to bolster cooperation between their free zones, while the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre announced 1,868 new companies have registered in its free zone in 2018 – an all-time record. Further, last year the tiny country of Djibouti launched Africa’s largest FTZ. Even UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced plans to create up to ten free ports in the UK to offset post-Brexit tariffs and attract investment. But the risks of FTZs are glaring, with the EU discouraging their existence, labelling FTZs as a “new emerging threat” in the world of financial crime.