The Impact of Special Economic Zones on Exporting Behavior

  • Roland B. Davies University College Dublin
  • Arman Mazhikeyev School of Economics, University College Dublin


Using firm level data from Africa and Asia, we estimate the impact of being in a special economic zone (SEZ) on a firm's probability of exporting, export intensity, and value of exports. At the extensive margin, we find that SEZ firms in open economies are 25% more likely to export than their non-SEZ counterparts, with a large negative effect in closed economies. At the intensive margin, we find that SEZs increase the value of exports, but only in countries with barriers to imports where the estimate increase is 3.6%. Thus, the estimated effect of introducing an SEZ can be meaningful, but is heavily contingent on the local economic environment.

Author Biographies

Roland B. Davies, University College Dublin
Arman Mazhikeyev, School of Economics, University College Dublin

Arman Mazhikeyev is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at UCD’s School of Economics since January 2015. He received his B.A. & M.A. in Public Administration from Eurasian National University (Astana, Kazakhstan) in 2006 and 2008, respectively, and completed his Ph.D. degree in Economics from Loughborough University (Loughborough, UK) in 2015.

Arman’s research interests include international trade, barriers to trade, economic geography, regional trade agreements, special economic zones, gender inequality, energy economics, environmental economics, supply chain and industrial organisation. He acted as referee for several academic journals including the Journal of Economic Modelling and Journal of Malaysian Economic Studies. He taught Quantitative Methods, Mathematics and Statistics to MA level students at UCD School of Economics in the previous three academic years.