Free trade zone  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A free trade zone (FTZ) or export processing zone (EPZ) is one or more special areas of a country where some normal trade barriers such as tariffs and quotas are eliminated and bureaucratic requirements are lowered in hopes of attracting new business and foreign investments. 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. 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).

Free trade zones in Latin America date back to the early decades of the 20th century. The first free trade regulations in this region were enacted in Argentina and Uruguay in the 1920s. However, the rapid development of free trade zones across the region dates from the late 1960s and the early 1970s.

In 1999, 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.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Free trade zone" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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