Criminal Risks in Free Trade Zones

This project examines criminal risks in free-trade zones, also known as freeports, and highlights best practice in tackling those risks.




Main Image Credit Pexels / Samuel Wölfl


Free-trade zones are created to attract trade and investment, but they are also vulnerable to crime. With the adoption of the OECD’s Code of Conduct for Clean Free-Trade Zones, it is more important than ever to understand and address the risks of illicit trade and financial crime. Our project explores international experience in doing so. It also offers an online risk assessment tool that businesses can use to understand their own exposure to the risk of facilitating crime as a result of operating in free-trade zones.

Main Image Credit Pexels / Samuel Wölfl

Aims and objectives

The project identifies factors that render free-trade zones vulnerable to illicit trade and financial crime and proposes measures to detect and prevent their criminal exploitation. To explore common challenges and responses that transcend countries’ individual circumstances, it examines four country case studies: Morocco, Panama, Singapore and the UAE.

Based on over 70 interviews, two research workshops and an analysis of publicly available literature, the project has already generated a published report on criminal risks of free-trade zones, an online risk assessment tool and multiple presentations, including the provision of parliamentary testimony on the introduction of freeports in the UK and broader responses to relevant governmental consultations.

Project sponsor

  • PMI Impact

    This project is funded by PMI Impact, a global funding initiative by Philip Morris International.

    Find out more

Project outputs


Access the key papers and the online tool produced as part of this project.

Free Trade Zone Risk Assessment Tool

This Free Trade Zone Risk Assessment tool enables businesses to assess their exposure to the risk of facilitating illicit trade or financial crime in any FTZ

Improving Governance and Tackling Crime in Free-Trade Zones
Free Ports, Not Safe Havens: Preventing Crime in the UK’s Future Freeports

Inquiries and testimony


Read the responses to inquiries and testimony in the House of Commons' International Trade Committee.

Oral testimony for the International Trade Committee’s Inquiry on UK Freeports

Oral evidence was given to the International Trade Committee on 9 September 2020.

Crime in Freeports: International Experience and Lessons for the UK

Written evidence for the International Trade Committee’s Inquiry on UK Freeports

Podcasts


Access podcast episodes related to this project.

Episode 8: Freeports in the UK
clock54 Minute Listen
View onlinechevron-right
Freeports in the UK: Securing the Benefits, Preventing Crime
Trade Based Money Laundering: Part 1

Anton Moiseienko, Research Fellow at RUSI's Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies, and Jon Draper, New Ventures Product Lead at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence talk to host Ben Tudor about a second front in the battle against money laundering: global trade on The Intelligence Download podcast.

Trade Based Money Laundering: Part 2

Anton Moiseienko, Research Fellow at RUSI's Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies, and Jon Draper, New Ventures Product Lead at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence talk to host Ben Tudor about a second front in the battle against money laundering: global trade on The Intelligence Download podcast.

Commentary articles


Access news and comment on this project.

Have Your Cake and Trade It: Is it Possible to Promote Legitimate Commerce While Reducing Illicit Trade?
clock6 Minute Read
View onlinechevron-right
Addressing the Abuse of Trade for Money Laundering Purposes
clock6 Minute Read
View onlinechevron-right
Transparency in the Backbone of Global Supply Chains: Foreign Trade Zones
clock6 Minute Read
View onlinechevron-right
Free Trade Zones and Financial Crime – A Faustian Bargain?
clock7 Minute Read
View onlinechevron-right

Impact

In 2020, RUSI provided a written briefing on best practices in securing free trade zones for the Dubai Free Zones Council.

In the same year, RUSI experts submitted written evidence to multiple UK Government inquiries regarding the introduction of freeports, and gave oral evidence to the International Trade Committee’s Inquiry on UK Freeports. The project team have also delivered presentations to HM Treasury and The Joint Money Laundering Intelligence Taskforce (JIMLIT).



Explore related projects

Strategic Hub for Organised Crime Research

Financial Crime 2.0

Policy-Compliance Link: The RUSI-ACAMS Partnership