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2020 Q1 Free Zones World Economic Barometer

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The results of the 2020Q1 round, conducted in February, suggest that economic conditions in free zones around the globe have improved compared with the previous three months. The share of free zones reporting good economic conditions increased from 46 percent in 2019Q4 to 56 percent. 37 percent of free zones evaluate their current situation as normal, while the share of free zones experiencing poor conditions increased slightly from 5 to 7 percent. This translates into an F-WEB Economic Conditions Index of 48, up from 41 in 2019Q4 and 26 in 2019Q3, and similar to the level seen one year ago. Expectations for the next three months have also become more optimistic. While the indicator for future economic conditions was on a downward trend since summer 2018, it had increased from 33 in 2019Q3 to 50 in 2019Q4 – and now rose further to a value of 63, a level last seen in 2018. While free zones may benefit from some improvements in the global trade environment, the outbreak of the Coronavirus poses a downward risk to economic activity in free zones, as our special questions reveal.

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