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Marketing a Free Market

October 16, 2009

On a recent trip to Italy I had the immense pleasure of wasting time by watching the turgid international CNN.  I am happy to report that its commercials were far more thought-provoking than its news. What I found was that governments advertise more than businesses. They market investment opportunities. They market their economies. I cannot find Turkey’s ad, but I’ve found these wonderful, if hilarious ads for Korea’s Free Economic Zones. (Here’s a wiki on one such zone.)

You have to love the triumphant Jurassic Park-like theme music with cuts to business men running up escalators.

But the ad leaves out the most compelling parts. What do Korea’s free zones offer your business? Listen to this gentle reader. This document says in a Korean free economic zone, you receive:

  • Income and corporate tax exemptions for the first 3 years and a 50 percent reduction for the following 2 years (for investments of more than US $50 million, a 100 percent exemption for the first 7 years and a 50 percent reduction for the following 3 years)
  • A flat 17 percent income tax for CEOs and executives at foreign companies
  • Capital goods import tariff exemption for 3 years
  • Minimal land-use regulations governing factory construction and enlargement.
  • Exemption from obligatory employment of veterans, the disabled, the elderly.

These six zones have been so successful for Korea, they so clearly help Korea attract investment, that its top economic policy maker used his recent talk at the IMF/World Bank conference in Turkey to implore his countrymen to turn the entire country into a free economic zone. (Read about it here.) How’s that for a little competition to discipline poor governance? What would one such Zone do for California?

Delightedly, I also saw this ad for the newly created free zone in Georgia. It features the voice of the socialist actor Patrick Stewart (little does he know!):

Georgia has recently leased its port of Poti as a free economic zone:

In April 2008, Georgia sold a 51% stake of the Poti port to the Investment Authority of the UAE’s Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) emirate to develop a free economic zone (FEZ) in a 49-year management concession, and to manage a new port terminal. The creation of a new FEZ was officially inaugurated by the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili on April 15, 2008.

(The Poti wiki is here; its own website here.)

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