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Towards economically dynamic Special Economic Zones in emerging countries

Author

Listed:
  • Susanne A. Frick
  • Andrés Rodríguez-Pose
  • Michael Wong

Abstract

Despite a massive recent proliferation of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), there is virtually no quantitative research on what drives their dynamism. The aim of this paper is to address this gap and analyse the factors influencing SEZ performance ? proxied by economic growth ? in emerging countries. The paper relies on two novel datasets, using night-lights data to proxy for SEZ performance and containing a wide range of SEZ policy variables and characteristics across a large number of countries. The main results of the analysis indicate that a) zone growth is difficult to sustain over time; that b) trying to upgrade the technological component or value-added of the economy through SEZ policies is often challenging; and that c) zone size matters: larger zones have an advantage in terms of growth potential. Furthermore, country context significantly determines SEZ performance. Firms look for low cost locations, but in close proximity to large cities. Proximity to large markets as well as pre-existing industrialization also increase SEZ performance. In contrast, incentives and other program specific variables are highly context-specific and not structurally correlated with SEZ performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Susanne A. Frick & Andrés Rodríguez-Pose & Michael Wong, 2018. "Towards economically dynamic Special Economic Zones in emerging countries," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1816, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Apr 2018.
  • Handle: RePEc:egu:wpaper:1816
    as

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    File URL: http://econ.geo.uu.nl/peeg/peeg1816.pdf
    File Function: Version April 2018
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Álvarez, Inmaculada C. & Barbero, Javier & Rodríguez-Pose, Andrés & Zofío, José L., 2018. "Does Institutional Quality Matter for Trade? Institutional Conditions in a Sectoral Trade Framework," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 72-87.
    2. Christian Daude & Ernesto Stein, 2007. "The Quality Of Institutions And Foreign Direct Investment," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(3), pages 317-344, November.
    3. Richard Baldwin, 2011. "Trade And Industrialisation After Globalisation's 2nd Unbundling: How Building And Joining A Supply Chain Are Different And Why It Matters," NBER Working Papers 17716, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Thomas Farole, 2011. "Special Economic Zones in Africa : Comparing Performance and Learning from Global Experience," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2268, May.
    5. Portugal-Perez, Alberto & Wilson, John S., 2012. "Export Performance and Trade Facilitation Reform: Hard and Soft Infrastructure," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(7), pages 1295-1307.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Special Economic Zones; Developing Countries; Industrial Policy; Economic Growth;

    JEL classification:

    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O24 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Trade Policy; Factor Movement; Foreign Exchange Policy
    • L52 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Industrial Policy; Sectoral Planning Methods

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