The results of the 2019Q2 round, conducted in the second half of May, suggest that economic conditions in free zones around the globe have deteriorated compared to the previous three months. The share of free zones reporting good economic conditions fell from 56 percent in 2019Q1 to 47 percent. Another 47 percent evaluate their current situation as normal, while the share of free zones experiencing poor conditions has increased slightly from 5 to 7 percent. This translates into an F-WEB Economic Conditions Index of 40, down from 51 in 2019Q1. Thus, after two consecutive quarters with increasing optimism, the F-WEB indicator has dropped to its second-lowest level since its launch. At the same time, the expectations for the next three months have also become less optimistic. Even though the deterioration is less pronounced than in the case of current economic conditions, the indicator for expectations regarding future economic conditions fell to its lowest level since the start of the F-WEB.
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 dras-tically 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 av-erage, but still less than half of the Free Zones expect an improvement in economic activ-ity in the next three months and one in four Free Zones have a negative outlook. Accord-ingly, 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.