On 14th June, the UN Conference on Trade and Development reported that a new wave of industrial policies and increasing competition for international investment has sparked a boom in the establishment of special economic zones (SEZ), according to UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2019. There are now nearly 5,400, up from 4,000 5 years ago, and more than 500 new SEZ are in the pipeline. They offer fiscal incentives and streamlined regulations to attract foreign direct investment (FDI), are common in most developing and many developed economies, and more than 145 economies operate such zones. International co-operation on zone development is increasingly common, the report finds, and many zones are being built through bilateral partnerships. The report also flags new challenges for SEZ – including current challenging global policy environment for trade and investment, with rising protectionism, and shifting trade preferences, and so that international co-operation on zone development is likely to become increasingly important.