Defenders of Export Processing Zones

In 2000, Daniel W. Drezner of the University of Chicago published an article entitled ‘Bottom Feeders’[1] in which he accused the critics of EPZs of a “lack of supporting evidence” for their arguments, of peddling myths and of simply being wrong. The grounds for his arguments are summarised below.

There is a lack of supporting evidence that the reduction of controls on trade and capital flows has forced a generalised downgrading of labour or environmental conditions;

“Multinationals often pay higher-than-average wages in developing countries in order to recruit better workers” (p.65);

“Several nations, including the Dominican Republic and the Philippines, actually … established labour standards in their EPZs when none previously existed” (p.66);

“Even developing countries … have liberalised their foreign investment laws while simultaneously tightening environmental regulations” (p.66);

“And even in the absence of uniform national enforcement, many multinational corporations have embraced self-monitoring programmes for the environment – an effective complement to government regulations” (p.66)

“Nongovernmental organisations, corporations, politicians and academics use the race to the bottom as an excuse to peddle their policy wares” (p.68).

[1] Daniel W. Drezner (2000) ‘Bottom Feeders’, at