South Africa’s Cabinet has approved the publication of the Special Economic Zones Bill for public comment. The legislation, should it be approved, will enable government to establish new special economic zones, or SEZs, in areas not physically associated with either an airport or a harbour, as is currently the case with the industrial development zones (IDZs).
The Bill seeks to provide for the designation, development, promotion, operation and management of SEZs, while outlining the framework for the application and issuance of SEZ operator permits.
It also provides for the establishment of an SEZ board and for the establishment of an SEZ fund.
The Bill has emerged from a review of the country’s four existing IDZs, which included an analysis of the way in which the concept has been implemented at Coega, East London, the OR Tambo International Airport and in Richards Bay.
The review has reportedly highlighted several shortcomings in the way the IDZs, as currently conceived, are promoting domestic and foreign investment on the estates that surround harbours and airports.
It is understood that the IDZs will be but one type of SEZ model on offer. However, the objective for all the zones designated will be to attract investors through incentives, customs exemptions and the provision of world-class infrastructure.
In deploying future SEZs, government is also planning for a more integrated approach that aligns with the needs of the host municipalities, as well as with those of regulating national government departments.
It will also seek to leverage off the project planning of those State-owned companies that could provide infrastructure services within the zones.