Business Survey

2020 Q3 Free Zones World Economic Barometer

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In the third quarter of 2020, Free Zones around the globe continue to be severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the result of the 2020Q3 F-WEB survey conducted in September and October 2020. At 17 percent, the share of Free Zones reporting a good current economic situation is almost as low as in the previous quarter. Before, it had plunged from 56 percent in the first quarter to 15 percent in the second quarter due to the coronavirus crisis. The share of Free Zones evaluating their situation as normal remains unchanged at 49 percent, while 34 percent of Free Zones describe their situation as poor (2020Q2: 36 percent). As a result, the corresponding F-WEB Economic Conditions Index increased only slightly from -20 in the previous quarter to -17 in 2020Q3. Its pre-pandemic reading had been 48. A look at more detailed dimensions of economic activity reveals that turnover and profitability saw first signs of improvement in the third quarter compared with the previous three months, but employment and investment in Free Zones stayed unchanged at their low levels. 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.

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