Free zones and foreign trade zones are geographical areas where businesses can trade, manufacture, store, import and export goods and services – often with favourable links to ports, airports and road networks, as well as low-to-zero rates of tax and duty. FTZs offer a wealth of benefits to entrepreneurs and businesses.

UAE free zones

The UAE’s free zones account for around one-third of the country’s non-oil trade and offer several key benefits: including 0% corporate and personal tax, 100% company ownership, 100% repatriation of capital and profits, no currency restrictions, and 100% import and export tax exemption within the free zone. While many focus on specific sectors, other UAE free zones are open to a wide variety of business activities.

US foreign trade zones

In the US, foreign trade zones tend to cater mainly to those in the manufacturing, distribution and import / export sectors. As is the case in most of the world, the key benefits centre on taxation and duty.

Many foreign trade zones offer duty exemption on re-exports as well as the ability to defer, reduce and even eliminate duty payments under certain circumstances. The majority of US foreign trade zones have close links with the nation’s ports, often allowing for cost-effective and expedited shipping.

The rest of the world

Throughout the rest of the world, the exact benefits of free and foreign trade zones differ slightly from country to country – and even zone-to-zone. As with the US and UAE, in most cases the key advantages are close links with ports and airports and low-to-zero rates of tax and duty.