T.N. GIM | 54 states soar with SEZs, export powerhouses!

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  • Tamil Nadu has the highest concentration of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in India, with 54 operational zones that account for one-third of the state’s exports.
  • The SEZ policy began in 2002 and became an Act in 2005, and has been successful in attracting global value chains to the region.
  • Tamil Nadu offers political and social stability, making it an attractive location for businesses looking to set up operations.

Tamil Nadu has emerged as the state with the highest concentration of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in India. Currently, there are 54 operational SEZs in the state, which account for one-third of its total exports. This was revealed by Alex Paul Menon, the Development Commissioner of the Madras Export Processing Zone (MEPZ) SEZ, during a session on ‘Special Economic Zones as Engines of Economic Transformation’ at the Global Investors Meet 2024 in Chennai. The SEZ policy was initially introduced in 2002 and became an Act in 2005.

The success of Tamil Nadu’s SEZs can be attributed to their ability to attract global value chains. Businesses are keen to set up operations in the state due to its political and social stability. The availability of skilled and affordable workforce is another advantage. The central government, along with the states, has been focused on digitizing approvals and creating plug and play models for manufacturing, which has further supported the growth of SEZs.

Other panelists at the session also highlighted the benefits of SEZs. Anup Wadhawan, the former Union Commerce Secretary, stated that India was the best alternative to a realignment of global supply chains. He suggested that other states should replicate the SEZ model and create platforms that focus on removing hurdles and making businesses more competitive. Arul Sambandam, the Managing Director of Synergy India Ventures, mentioned that Tamil Nadu scored well in ease of doing business and had the advantage of cheaper and skilled workforces. Aradhana Aggarwal, a professor at the Copenhagen School of Business, emphasized the better governance and reduced corruption in SEZs.

The Global Investors Meet 2024 in Tamil Nadu concluded on January 8, 2024. The state is one of the largest recipients of foreign direct investment and investments in SEZ platforms.

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