Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are established to promote the establishment and implementation of new entrepreneurial initiatives of micro, small, medium, and large businesses, both national and foreign, as well as the reshoring of companies that have previously relocated their production activities abroad.
The SEZ tool allows for the creation of favorable conditions on an administrative level, through simplification and streamlining of procedures, as well as tax benefits for businesses.
Under article 4, paragraph 2, D.L. June 20, 2017, no. 91 and ss.mm.ii., “An SEZ is defined as a geographically delimited and clearly identified zone, located within the state borders, also consisting of areas not territorially adjacent provided they present a functional economic connection, and that includes at least one port area with the characteristics established by regulation (EU) no. 1315 of December 11, 2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council, on the guidelines of the Union for the development of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T). For the exercise of economic and entrepreneurial activities, companies already operating and those that will settle in the SEZ can benefit from special conditions, in relation to the incremental nature of investments and business development activities.”
The Ionian Interregional SEZ covers approximately 2,579.11 hectares and includes, in addition to the port of Taranto and the airport area of Grottaglie, the production areas that revolve around five development poles (Taranto, Grottaglie, Melfi, Ferrandina and Galdo di Lauria), each characterized by:
- a good level of internal cohesion and interconnection, economically and logistically;
- a significant degree of sectoral specialization;
- a good level of physical and functional connection with the Taranto port area.
The Apulian side of the Ionian SEZ substantially coincides with the province of Taranto, whose productive (and employment) centroid has traditionally been identified with the capital city and the activities related to the steel industry and its induced activities. Alongside this, quality agri-food productions have always been of great importance. The Apulian SEZ areas affect two territorial poles: Taranto and Grottaglie. Taranto is “the” port of the Ionian SEZ, Grottaglie constitutes another important logistics hub, thanks to the presence of the airport. Another distinctive element in the industrial field is the important aerospace hub, which develops around the Grottaglie airport, and which sees the presence in the territory of some of the major companies in the sector (e.g., Virgin Galactic, Boeing, Leonardo). This industrial vocation is also reflected in the configuration of the training system with the Taranto branch of the Polytechnic of Bari, which offers a course in aerospace systems engineering. In recognition of this, Taranto will be the location of one of the Leonardo Labs.
Specifically, the Grottaglie airport, already home to the only factory in the world where two sections of the Boeing 787 fuselage are produced, has been chosen as an integrated platform for the testing of remote-controlled aircraft and as the first spaceport in Italy and in the European continent for suborbital flights. Aerospace can therefore play an important role for the provincial economy, also from a European perspective. The export trend of Taranto’s aerospace sector between 2010 and 2019 shows an impressive growth from 6 million Euro to 446 million Euro.
Industry and logistics find an enabling factor in the Port of Taranto. It unites the most important logistics and industrial poles of the area and constitutes the key port hub of the Ionian Interregional Special Economic Zone.
The multisectoral pier of the Port of Taranto hosts an important container terminal connected to the road and rail networks of the entire area.
The military base also represents a crucial geopolitical point of the Mediterranean Sea, as it hosts the Standing Naval Forces (immediate reaction naval forces) of NATO. Distinctiveness is also highlighted by the fact that it is one of the few Italian ports that can count on a nearby cargo airport, being about 20 km from the Grottaglie Airport (10th airport in Italy for goods transported).
The Massafra area, in addition to food processing (Heineken factory), is characterized by the presence of significant companies operating in the precision mechanics sector and the processing for the Oil&Gas sector.
Another productive hub is represented by the ENI refinery in Taranto, also connected by a pipeline to the extraction plants in Val d’Agri.
Another distinctive element of Taranto is the growth of tourism and the presence of cultural assets that can be further enhanced.
Taranto is experiencing a period of enormous ferment due to the programming of the Mediterranean Games of 2026 and the start of urban passenger traffic with the BRT lines, in the name of sustainable mobility.
A strategic project is the Taranto Eco Park for the expansion of the logistical and productive areas of the back-port industrial area.
The total extension of the Apulian side of the Ionian SEZ is equal to 1,518.41 hectares.
The Lucanian side of the Ionian SEZ extends over more than 1,000 hectares distributed in 3 logistics hubs (Melfi, Ferrandina, and Galdo di Lauria) and 11 industrial areas/PAIP, including: San Nicola di Melfi, Valle di Vitalba, Balvano Baragiano, Tito, Val Basento, Viggiano and Senise and the PAIP areas of Policoro, Scanzano Jonico and Galdo di Lauria, characterized by a rich and articulated productive structure from the sectoral profile to intense industrialization. At least five productive specialization poles insist on the Lucanian SEZ areas (automotive industry, thanks to the presence of Stellantis in Melfi, and more generally the transport industry, particularly rail in Matera; the regional Aerospace cluster, with particular reference to applications in the field of environmental monitoring, Earth Observations and natural risk prevention, a quality agricultural and agri-food chain, which exports typical high-quality productions and which includes the presence of some giants of agro-industrial transformation such as Ferrero and Barilla; the extractive sector, with the presence of ENI and Total’s oil activities in Val d’Agri; the project to create a district of energy components, the upholstered furniture pole of Matera, and tourism, which can take advantage of attractions such as the city of Matera (Cultural Capital 2019), the Metapontine coast, and Maratea). There is a niche productive chain in the field of nanotechnology and precision mechanics on the regional territory.
The total extension of the Lucanian side of the Ionian SEZ is equal to 1,061 hectares.
The entire Region boasts a geographical hinge position between the Eastern and Western South and a completely connected region. Basilicata is located in a central position between the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic seas, and with the entry into service of the High-Capacity railway line between Naples and Bari, which will skirt the north of the region, it can aspire to the role of a logistics platform for goods traffic in Ferrandina between the two shores of the South. The city of Potenza is about an hour and a half from the Naples airport terminals, and an hour from the Salerno port terminal; the city of Matera is about half an hour from the port and airport terminal of Bari, and an hour from the Taranto transshipment port. The southwestern area of the region is about an hour from the Gioia Tauro transshipment port.