EghtesadOnline: The Statistical Center of Iran, the national statistical authority of the country affiliated to the Management and Planning Organization, will provide statistics on the economic indexes of Iranian free trade zones as per a memorandum of understanding signed between the High Council of Free Zones and SCI on Saturday.
"Non-oil exports through Iran’s FTZs stood at over $22 billion in the last fiscal year (March 2017-18) while the zones host 13 million tourists annually," said Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, the head of MPO, who attended the signing ceremony, IRNA reported.
“Accurate information on economic indicators, including unemployment and inflation, is vital for both domestic and foreign investors to ensure their investment suitability.”
Speaking at the same ceremony, Morteza Bank, the secretary of High Council of Free Zones, said, "The population of those employed in Iranian FTZs stood at 285,000 last year, registering a 6% rise compared with the year before."
According to Financial Tribune, the official added that FTZs have a total population of one million.
“Altogether, more than 450,000 are working in the country’s FTZs and SEZs, indicating that these zones play a significant role in economic growth, job creation and improvement of productivity,” he said.
The official had earlier said no one is jobless in Kish Free Trade Zone, the unemployment rate in Qeshm FTZ (about 6%) is half the country’s average and the number of jobless people is very low in Aras FTZ.
“The highest unemployment rates among FTZs have been registered for Arvand and Khorramshahr due to their lack of infrastructures in the aftermath of the Iran-Iraq War (1980–88),” he said.
The term “special economic zone” is commonly used to refer to any modern zone where business and trade laws differ from those on the mainland.
Broadly speaking, SEZs are located within a country’s national borders—unlike free trade zones on the edges—and aim to increase trade and investment, create jobs and improve administration.
To encourage businesses to set up operations and attract investments in economic zones, liberal policies have been enacted regarding tax regimes, trade, quotas, customs and labor regulations.
The creation of special economic zones was also motivated by the desire to attract foreign direct investment. The benefits of companies based in such zones include production and sale of goods at globally competitive prices.
Iran is home to seven free trade zones, namely Kish, Qeshm, Chabahar, Anzali, Arvand, Maku and Aras, and 64 special economic zones.
The government plans to present a bill on establishment of eight new free trade zones, including Incheh Boroun in Golestan Province, Mehran FTZ in Ilam, Ardabil FTZ in Ardabil Province, Sistan FTZ in Sistan-Baluchestan, Baneh-Marivan in Kurdestan, Jask in Hormozgan, Bushehr FTZ in Bushehr and Qasr-e Shirin in Kermanshah, as well as 12 special economic zones.
Nonetheless, the plan for expansion of free trade zones in Iran has had its own critics. Giving rise to tax evasion in view of incentives provided in FTZs, encouraging excessive imports and pursuing elusive goals set by authorities in these zones are among the main criticisms directed at Iranian FTZ officials.