MECC stakeholders agree that SEZs provide a viable platform for economic cooperation in the region and cross-border economic interaction. Solid infrastructure, appropriate public investments, good governance practices, and incentives for companies are among the critical success factors for SEZs. There is also a role that donor states can play in supporting SEZs, especially in off-site infrastructure development.
These zones have been proven to offer the flexibility for governments to try new economic and public policies to spur investment and economic development that in time can transform the region. The MECC task force agrees that while SEZs serve as pockets of excellence and sometimes islands of economic activity, they should also be part of an overall economic growth strategy of a country. In this context, SEZs could contribute to the creation of a regional competitiveness agenda and a pillar of growth throughout the Middle East.
The Task Force will build a coalition to support an Israeli-Turkish Qualifying Industrial Zone (QIZ) based on the models in Egypt and Jordan. Amended U.S. legislation would extend the QIZs to Turkey to enhance regional economic integration, stability, and employment opportunity. Goods created in the QIZs, jointly produced by Israel/Palestine and Turkey, would qualify for duty-free entry into the United States.
The SEZ Task Force will promote the expansion of the Israeli-Egyptian QIZ to include additional governorates in Upper Egypt in underdeveloped areas and attract foreign textile producers to invest in existing QIZs.
The Task Force will conduct benchmarking studies regarding zones in the Middle East identifying top performing SEZs in the region, highlighting best practices and assessing underperforming zones.
The Task Force will organize SEZ workshops with existing SEZ leaders to understand the success determinants of existing SEZs and to develop an agreed-upon set of “rules of engagement” with respect to how these zones should operate in order to have greater success in the region.
Finally, the Task Force will lead an SEZ roadshow to mobilize investors to promote successful SEZs to raise outward investment for current and future SEZs in the short and long term.