The XXII Conference of Free Zones of the Americas took place on October 2nd, 2018 in Antigua Guatemala, organized by the Free Zones of the Americas Association (AZFA), the Guatemalan Chamber of Industry, AGEXPORT and the Guatemalan Chamber of Commerce.
At its inauguration ceremony, the president of the World Free Zones Association, Mr. Mohammed Alzarooni, said that free zones connect companies around the world and help them grow together by exchanging knowledge and mutual support.
According to the Guatemalan Ministry of Economy, the 11 free zones located in Guatemala host economic activities such as textiles and food industry and generate as many as 16,000 jobs (both direct in indirect).
Free zones are used as a successful tool all over the world to create employment opportunities and prosperity, said Mrs. Fanny D. Estrada, AGEXPORT’s Institutional Relations director.
This regional meeting took place for the first time in Guatemala, with the objective of displaying the potential and current challenges that free zones face in the region to public and private sector leaders of the 22 countries of Ibero-America, as well as serving as the perfect scenario for business and investment meetings.
The president of the Free Zones Association of the Americas, Mr. Juan Pablo Rivera, called Guatemalan authorities to approve a draft bill in Congress to update the free zones legal framework as well as issue regulations on the Free Zone of Industry and Commerce of Santo Tomas de Castilla (ZOLIC, for its acronym in Spanish).
In Latin American there are a total of 670 free zones that host more than 10,000 different companies and generate more than US$31 billion in exports. Free zones most Latin American countries generate as much as 80% of their total exports. In Guatemala, there is a large opportunity for free zones as they only generate 7% of the country’s total exports.
The Free Zone of Industry and Commerce of Santo Tomás de Castilla (ZOLIC) is a tool that will allow us to be more competitive and help getting back some companies that abandoned Guatemala when Congress reformed the Free Zones Act on 2016, said Mr. Amador Carballido, AGEXPORT’s CEO.