Free Trade Zones: Development Possibilities for Nigeria

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Project

University Scholars Director

Dr. Jeff Keuss

First Advisor/Committee Member

Bradley Murg, Ph.D

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Kathleen Braden, Ph.D


special economic zones, China, Nigeria


The state has a great amount of influence over the trajectory of economic development; its relationship with actors and variables in the economy, such as capital, labor, and resources, is shaped, among other things, by three factors: the size of coalitional commitments, the presence or scarcity of natural resources, and the level of stability or the threat of instability. Developmental states come out of the combination of broad coalitional commitments, scarce natural resources, and severe security threats. If all three are present, the state becomes vulnerable and is forced to focus its efforts on economic growth in order to expand the “national pie,” satisfying the popular sector’s demands for greater economic opportunities and the need for increasing the defense budget. For countries with low levels of economic development, this has been crucial for the state taking on a promotional role to encourage manufacturing and industrialization. Often, the state does not have the capacity or willingness to implement growth-oriented policies as well as changing the economic framework. One way to make allowances for structural change in the economy is to concentrate reform in a particular space by enclosing a geographical area in which economic regulations are liberalized. The most notable success using this strategy is the story of China’s special economic zones (SEZs). China can be analyzed in terms of its vulnerability and how it affected China’s economic path. Similarly interrogating several country case studies in Africa can provide insight into the progress of their zone programs, and whether this is a strategy that is transportable or if there must be very careful assessment as to a unique strategy for every context.


A project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the University Scholars Program.

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