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Today RUSI has launched a freely available online risk assessment tool that helps private-sector companies ensure they do not unwittingly facilitate crime when operating in free-trade zones (FTZs).
FTZs benefit from reduced customs regulation and are a vital contributor to the economic prosperity of many countries. However, there has been a growing level of concern about the abuse of FTZs for illicit trade, money laundering and tax evasion.
Since 2019, RUSI has been studying criminal risks of FTZs. RUSI research has found that, despite global advances like the publication of the OECD Code of Conduct for Clean FTZs, businesses often find it difficult to distinguish between low-risk and high-risk FTZs.
To aid the private sector in this effort and to contribute to greater FTZ integrity, RUSI is launching an online risk assessment tool intended for use by banks, insurance companies, shipping lines and freight forwarders. It is available at ftz-risk.rusi.org. The tool asks users to rate a number of risk factors based on their own experience and a list of recommended data sources, which range from government publications to civil society reports.
The online tool builds on two years of research focused on Morocco, Panama, Singapore and the UAE. Its development was possible thanks to the financial support of PMI Impact, a global funding initiative by Philip Morris International.
For more RUSI work on FTZs, read our research papers here: ‘Improving Governance and Tackling Crime in Free-Trade Zones’ (October 2020); and ‘Free Ports, Not Safe Havens: Preventing Crime in the UK’s Future Freeports’ (April 2020).