The free trade zone of Iquique, most commonly known as ZOFRI an (acronym for its name in Spanish) is the most important commerce point in thenorth of Chile. Created in 1975 together with its brother in Punta Arenas, these tax paradises where meant to promote the industrial and commercial activities in two places with a lot in common: beingthe far endings of a very long and narrow country which happens to be highly centralized and forgetful of every city that is not Santiago, and highly important ports for the country.
As predictable,these free trade zones brought an explosive increase of every economic indicator of the regions, being Iquique the one that most profited with this new tax exemption regime, attracting importers andtourists from al over the country as well as foreign investors until today. In fact last year, the commercial exchange of Iquique’s port was valued by the Custom’s Regional Director in 114.719,30million dollars .
However, not all of these effects have been positive. The laxity in the control of products in transit or commercialized inside ZOFRI along with the huge amount of goods coming inand out of the free trade zone every day has made it almost impossible for the authorities to effectively control the counterfeiting and other illegalities along the years.
This may be explainedbecause the law that created this free trade zone was promulgated more than thirty five years ago, when Chile’s economy was very different from today. In those days, the efforts of the government werecentered in strongly promoting the economy by opening our market to the world and attract foreign investors. This taken into consideration makes it much easier to understand some dispositions containedin the law, such us the one that states that the free trade zones are elevated to a status of “presumption of extraterritoriality” by Customs, or that in these facilities, the goods can be...