In a bid to attract more investments from Indian businesses in existing and new sectors, the Hamriyah Free Zone Authority (HFZA), located in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, announced a slew of incentives at a select media round table on 22nd October in Mumbai.
“The idea of the free zone is to raise FDI investments in existing as well as new segments that were not developed previously,” says Saud Salim Al Mazrouei, Director, HFZA, speaking to Forbes India on the sidelines of the meet. While the free zone primarily focusses on sectors like petrochemicals, maritime, oil and gas and perfume, it is now looking to develop logistics, food and beverage, commodities and packaging sectors. This year alone, they have invested $150 million for developing the third phase of the HFZA through construction new road networks, highway and warehouses.
Apart from fully convertible currency and a multi-access to neighboring and global countries through land, sea and air, the HFZA provides additional benefits like total exemption of – import and export tax, commercial levies and corporate profit tax and personal income tax. It also allows for hundred percent repatriation of capital and profits and hundred percent company ownership. According to the rules of Gulf nations, one has to make a local national a business partner to set-up any office or business in the respective country, which in turn hurts the profitability. To counter this, many Gulf nations set-up Free Trade Zones to promote overseas investments and businesses.
“We also have a research division which sits with the clients and understand their needs to make their business model effective and operationally smooth, both with regard to our services and third party services,” explains Al Mazrouei. For instance, HFZA has over 60 petrochemical units within the zone, which require certification from international labs before they can export it. This process took about three days. In order to fast-track this, Al Mazrouei says they are in talks with the international labs to open an office within the zone, which will enable the process to get completed in a day.
HFZA currently has over 6,500 companies from across 157 countries, of which 1500 are Indian companies. India accounts for 30 percent of the total investment received by HFZA and is their largest market, followed by Europe and UK.