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As an instrument of trade and investment policy, special economic zones have played a catalytic role in processes of industrialization, diversification, and trade integration in many countries, particularly in East Asia. However, in the African context, anecdotal evidence suggests the experience has been disappointing on the whole. Among the reasons why many zones underperform may be that they fail to establish a high quality investment environment - this is, after all, one of the main promises that economic zones hold for investors. Drawing on original survey research, this paper presents a systematic analysis of the outcomes and the investment climate of economic zones programs in six African countries and four developing countries outside the region.
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