Home » World FZO discusses cooperation with WTO, ILO

World FZO discusses cooperation with WTO, ILO

by Dubaiforum

GENEVA, 9th February, 2023 (WAM) –Dr. Mohammed Alzarooni, Chairman of the World Free Zones Organisation (World FZO), paid an official visit to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss ways of joint future cooperation, and confirm the pivotal role played by free zones and its operating companies to drive the growth of the global economy and revitalise supply chains and international trade.

In this regard, Dr. Mohammed Alzarooni said: “The World FZO is keen to enhance the horizons of cooperation with international organisations in a way that contributes to achieving the economic goals of free zones worldwide, and their contribution to a national, regional and global level. Our meetings came as a realisation of challenges facing the global economy, which can be resolved more effectively and efficiently through fruitful cooperation between international bodies, governments, and the free zones, which number more than 3,000 worldwide. The cooperation will contribute to reviving supply chains and global trade and supporting economic growth and social development.

Dr. Alzarooni added: “Free zones in the world generate more than 80 million job opportunities, so it is necessary to enable various cooperation mechanisms between free zones, government agencies, and international organizations to attract more talents and develop competencies and reduce global unemployment rates, by facilitating employment procedures and guaranteeing employees’ rights’. We are keen to encourage constructive dialogue and enhance cooperation opportunities with all parties to support the organization’s goals, which today includes more than 1,550 members from 140 countries, by achieving growth and prosperity in the global economy based on the free zone model.”

World Trade Organisation

Dr. Mohammed Alzarooni met Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director General of the WTO.

The meeting concluded with the formation of a “Policy Dialogue Taskforce” at the senior level representing both organisations to set up a strategy or action plan that focuses on the main pillars for free zones and their companies, including Identifying the trade impact of COVID-19 on its key export sectors, especially Small and medium-sized companies, and work to expanding trade flows by setting the right border policies and procedures.

The scope will include looking into trade restrictions, re-build supply capacity, and developing digital supply chains to maintain the movement of goods while adhering to safety measures and leveraging digital channels and ICT tools to ensure SMEs’ capacity to continue working.

The taskforce will focus on enhancing transportation infrastructure and highlighting the importance of investments in logistics and expanding trade finance that could strengthen the contribution of trade to economic recovery and climate change.

The taskforce will investigate ways to strengthen the global value chain that caters to sectors such as agriculture and food processing, health, pharmaceutical, hygiene, information, and communications technology and identify new domestic and foreign business relations and distribution channels.

Dr. Alzarooni confirmed that the World FZO is in constant dialogue with the OECD to propose mechanisms for implementing the safe-free zones model. The collaboration model aims to ensure that these mechanisms are used in fair trade, respect intellectual property rights, and avoid illegal practices such as money laundering and smuggling.

In this context, Al Zarooni said: “The World Free Zones Organisation and the World Trade Organisation will work to find effective solutions to overcome the challenges facing the international trade and companies in a way that ensures defining strategic goals and providing smooth and cross-border goods movement, which will reflect positively on national and global economies to develop and prosper.”

Job opportunities and talent attraction

Dr. Alzarooni also met with Gilbert Houngbo, Director General of the ILO, to discuss ways of cooperation to resolve the challenges facing the labour markets and to discuss the agreement on a strategic plan of action that allows free zones to provide new jobs and develop competitive skills to reduce global unemployment rates and their negative consequences.

Dr. Alzarooni emphasised the commitment of the World Free Zones Organisation to ensure the promotion of best practices and standards for labour in free zones and their companies to address the various challenges that may affect the pace of their growth, which makes the tools developed by World FZO such as the “IZDHAR” Index and the Future Free Zone Programme among the most promising and enhanced solutions to view the readiness of World FZO members and partners for the future.

The two parties agreed to form a joint “Policy Dialogue Taskforce” to develop mechanisms to attract and develop talents in the free zones and the companies that operate in them within the high-tech industry, agriculture, logistics, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, safety, and security.

The Taskforce will focus on providing the necessary technical support services, in partnership with governments in some countries, to ensure that labour rights and regulations are keeping up with the best practices, including the rules and laws of the International Labor Organisation, by focusing on new trends in the labour market such as remote work, e-learning, entrepreneurship, and gender balance, women empowerment, and equal opportunities.

The Taskforce will encourage and enable free zones and companies operating in them to identify skills gaps and rehabilitate the workforce to meet the needs of future labour markets such as e-commerce, digital transformation, customer service, transportation and logistics, and artificial intelligence. The taskforce will assist in enhancing employees’ qualifications by developing them through different offerings such as “Online Management Diploma” and “SMEEP: Small, Medium, Enterprise Educational Program” to build up capabilities of the SMEs located at free zones by providing access to educational and learning materials and tools, “Leadership Development Program” and others.

Leading a new phase in enabling global free zones

The World Free Zones Organisation aims, through its cooperation with international organisations, to highlight its programmes and raise awareness of its goals, which include promoting the overall concept of “prosperity” of free zones by adopting a framework of high standard names “Izdihar” that will track and measure free zones from different perspectives to reach maturity and become free zones of the future. This will reflect on labor, employees, safety, security, social responsibility, work environment, business growth, economic contribution, people development, empowerment, recognition, equality, and balance.

The cooperation will also emphasize safety and security in free zones by leveraging the skills of free zones employees and their companies’ employees by adopting a “Safe Zone Certification Programme” of high standards and best practices to counter illicit trade, money laundering, and human trafficking. This will positively impact employees’ productivity, performance, ethics, morale, health, and welfare.

WFZO collaboration will focus on developing the digital thinking and skills of employees to enable them to transform their business operations digitally and serve customers and investors remotely by adopting “Digital Zone Certification Program” which is designed by the World Free Zone Organization in collaboration with the International Consulting Company.

There will be dialogues to turning up free zones operation to become eco and sustainable free zone that impact on the community and the environment by adopting “Green Zone Certification Program” which is designed by the World Free Zone Organization in collaboration with the international consulting company.

The World Free Zone Organisation will coordinate with multi-international organisations to contribute to World FZO “Online Academy” by providing prominent professors, courses, researches, and other learning tools to enrich its contents and add value to those interested in pursuing their career growth and enhancing their well-being.

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