Historians might trace the first SEZ to 1666, citing the Canal des Deux Mers or Canal between the Two Seas. Connecting the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, the Canal was an economic success; using a medieval model, Pierre-Paul Riquet worked with the French government to make the route an independent fief. Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in more recent times must include Puerto Rico in 1942, and economists point to Shenzhen as the very important first SEZ in China; once a village, Shenzhen grew rapidly when advantageous business and tax laws were granted in the 1980’s to promote commerce. Recent research by the World Bank explores SEZ success factors. It must be noted that many Special Economic Zones involve water locations. The Canal des Deux Mers is not just an economic but also an environmental achievement, preserving and enhancing a waterway that today is a World Heritage Site. Can France’s Canal des Deux Mers inspire new forms of environmentally wise SEZ development? Might the Dutch success of protective dikes and land reclamation be emulated in coastal environments? Will Frank Davidson and Ernst Frankel prove visionary in proposing a free-trade zone enhanced by artificial islands or reclaimed land from the sea offshore Israel and Jordan?
Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.