Zones and zoning: Linking the geographies of freeports with ArtTech and financial market making

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Freeports and special economic zones (SEZs) are established policy tools to attract foreign investment at specific locations, based on the de-coupling of sovereignty and territory. As a result, they emerged not only in developmental contexts, but also in tax havens and financial centres.

Recently, freeports and SEZs have shifted from responding to global competition for spaces best suited to attract tangible manufacturing to responding to competition for spaces with best conditions to enable value extraction and wealth shielding. We develop the argument on the emerging industry of ArtTech and new ‘fine art freeports’ that thrive on two core social practices: fracturing property rights to enhance financial liquidity and trading activity in highly exclusive fine-art markets, and offshoring – or zoning – to exploit freeport-facilitated relations for market making and rent-seeking.