Health risks

Many countries in developing Asia are establishing Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to offer an attractive investment climate for the private sector and to foster industrial and economic development outside of major cities. Across the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) there are over 500 SEZs and industrial estates, many of which have been strategically located along or near the 11 GMS economic corridors.

The aim is to create a “seamless production zone” within the subregion. One major development impact of SEZs is job creation. In the GMS alone, SEZs are estimated to have already provided employment for millions. Also, as SEZs are often situated in less developed areas, investing in infrastructure is a must. Infrastructure development, in turn, gives nearby communities better access to jobs and services, so SEZs and their surroundings soon become growth engines. But SEZ development can come at a price in terms of health. —