Business Survey

2020 Q2 Free Zones World Economic Barometer


  • Meuchelböck
  • S.
  • Gern
  • K.-J.
Publication Date

In the second quarter of 2020, the world is severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and so are Free Zones around the globe. This is the result of the 2020Q2 F-WEB survey conducted in May 2020. The global crisis hit at a time when economic sentiment in Free Zones had been on an upward trend. However, due to the pandemic and measures taken to contain the spread of the virus, economic conditions in Free Zones have deteriorated markedly. The share of Free Zones reporting good economic conditions decreased drastically from 56 percent in this year’s first quarter to 15 percent now. About 49 percent evaluate their current situation as normal and 36 percent as poor. As a result, the F-WEB Economic Conditions Index dropped from +48 to -20 and registered a negative value for the first time since the start of the F-WEB in 2018. The outlook is more optimistic, on average, but still less than half of the Free Zones expect an improvement in economic activity in the next three months and one in four Free Zones have a negative outlook. Accordingly, the Expected Economic Conditions Index decreased from 63 to 20. Moreover, the survey results suggest that Free Zones are hit particularly hard in comparison with their host economies and that the pandemic affects sectors and firms within Free Zones to a different extent.