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02 December 2023

EZW's China, India work on track despite crisis

Jafza is unlikely to expand beyond its current size (XAVIER WILSON) 

By Ashaba K Abdul Basti

The development of business parks in China and India spearheaded by Economic Zones World (EZW), a unit of Dubai World, will go on as scheduled despite the current economic situation.

The company will, however, take a consolidation approach in 2009 for all its other existing developments in other regions.

"All our development projects in India and China will go ahead as planned this year and we do not anticipate any slowdown," Khaled Ahmed, Vice-President, Strategy and Development, Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) and EZW told Emirates Business.

"But for us, 2009 will be more a year of planning in as far as our expansion programme in other regions is concerned."

EZW, which already has operations in 14 countries develops and manages various kinds of economic zones, including free trade zones, business parks and industry-specific clusters.

EZW has a two-year old 50:50 joint venture with India's Tata Realty And Infrastructure Limited (TRIL), a 100-per cent subsidiary of Tata Sons to tap into India's $90 billion (Dh330.57bn) logistics market by developing and operating a chain of business and logistics parks across India.

On-going developments in India comprises seven business and logistics parks at key locations such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Nagpur and Kochi, all to be operated exclusively by Jafza International.

Last year, EZW got clearance from India's Ministry of Commerce to set up a SEZ (Special Economic Zone) that will include a free trade warehousing zone (FTWZ) at Raigad, in Maharashtra, India.

The SEZ is being built over an 85.12-hectare area and will host free trade warehousing firms, provide state-of-art logistics to companies doing trade and business with companies across Asia, the CIS and Africa.

"We are committed to these developments as we look into the long term benefits they will have to our network of zones," said Ahmed.

He said EZW's developments in China would also help to boost its trade relations with UAE.

China achieved top position among Dubai's trading partners in import in 2008, with Dh40.5bn worth of goods imported during January-September.

According to Dubai World's Statistics Department, China also topped the list in non-oil foreign trade through free zones and customs warehouses, with Dh28 bn.

EZW also has a number of ongoing developments in Libya, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Russia, Philippines, On going EZW developments, South Carolina in USA, Oman, Senegal and Djibouti, among others, with total investments estimated at Dh28bn.

Ahmed said Phase II of EZW's Djibouti Free Zone (DFZ) project comprising the development of light industrial units, warehouses and office facilities was ongoing, following the 100 per cent occupation of Phase I.

EZW's domestic portfolio includes the Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (Jafza), its international business arm Jafza International, Techno Park and Dubai Auto Zone.

Ahmed, however, said the current economic situation was likely to scale down projections for all occupations at its zones in 2009.

With the completion of the Jebel Ali South Zone, a total space of 1.2km is available for rent at Jafza this year.

"We are hoping to see a high occupancy rate this year compared to last year, but the numbers are likely to fall below our expectations due to the crisis," said Ahmed.

"We, however, remain optimistic about our performance because unlike real estate business, which is driven by availability of funds, the free zones depend on trade, which is still available in the region."

He said although Jafza could no longer expand beyond its current size, its parent company, EZW would continue to seek opportunities elsewhere to provide existing customers with an integrated solution.