IIED | October 2018
Special economic zones: engines of development or sites of exploitation?
by Lorenzo Cotula and Liliane Mouan
Special economic zones (SEZs) have spread rapidly over the past 20 years,
including in many low- and middle-income countries keen to attract private
investment for industrial development. But while much debate has focused
on their economic performance and success factors, there are concerns
over land expropriations, poor labour conditions and lost public revenues.
These concerns are often partly rooted in the legal regimes that underpin
SEZs — their failure to protect affected people, their exempting SEZs from
national laws or their weak arrangements to ensure compliance. At the same
time, activists have in a few cases mobilised the law to contest SEZs and
their impacts. This briefing discusses these trends and points to possible
ways forward for research, policy and practice.
Read the briefing here (pdf)