In 2015, the world accounted about 4,300 Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in existence and the number is only increasing. China established the first SEZs in 1980. The success of these SEZs and in particular that of Shenzhen, inspired other countries to follow. India set up the first Asian Special Economic Zones in Kandla in 1965, followed by Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines, all of whom started their SEZs between 1968 and 1972.
Nowadays, ASEAN Member States have widely adopted the SEZs model, establishing more than 1,000 SEZs and recognizing their vital role in the development of the ASEAN Economic Community. In December 2015, Japan adopted the Law on National Strategic Special Zones as a part of the regulatory reform and more generally as part of “Abenomics”, the economic policies advocated by Prime Minister Abe in 2012. In 2016, Dubai Multi Commodities Centre was awarded “Global Free Zones of the Year” for the second year running, thanks to the constant support the United Arab Emirates provide for investors. In 2017, the Vietnamese Planning and Investment Minister announced the establishment of three ‘outstanding’ SEZs, in the north, centre and south of the country, that offered investors greater incentives and fewer restrictions than those available to date in the country.