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The  COVID-19 pandemic. which has spread globally since 2020, has not only affected the health sector and destroyed the lives of millions of people, but has also dealt a major blow to all sectors of the world economy. Trade and investment flows have decreased, the global value chain has been disrupted, and the volume of exports and imports of industrial products, food raw materials and food products has decreased. The pandemic has created financial difficulties for both developing and developed countries. Not only were international traffic blocked, but the population was isolated from the outside world. The pandemic caused great damage to business and commodity production. Most companies were at risk of closing. Most of the people were left without jobs and income.

Clearly, the economic crisis caused by the Covid Pandemic has also affected special economic zones, which are an effective tool for the country's economic growth, attracting foreign direct investment, industrializing the country, diversifying exports, transferring innovative technologies and creating new jobs.

For the implementation of investment projects in SEZ, great importance is attached to SEZ's resilience to external crises and shock situations, as well as the flexibility of its policy to quickly assess risks and take adequate measures. The Covid pandemic is the biggest challenge in the history of SEZ development to day.  The pandemic economic crisis has hampered the normal functioning of the SEZ. The services of the zones and the activities of the companies operating in the zones were negatively affected by such factors as: Regulations introduced by the government against the spread of COVID-19; Disruption of supply chains and delays in cargo turnover; Inconsistent intake of raw material flows; Closing borders and restricting the movement of export goods; Slowing down customs procedures; Closing or suspending companies operating in SEZ, etc.

In order to maintain the viability of the special economic zones, it became necessary to develop strategic mechanisms that would facilitate the overcoming of difficulties, the continuous operation of the SEZ and the smooth implementation of investment projects.

In general, the global sustainable development agenda, as well as technological revolutions and the digital economy, are posing new challenges for special economic zones. Added to this was the need to adequately adjust the SEZ development strategy to mitigate the negative impact of the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. It can be said that the current situation has accelerated the modernization of SEZ, which implies the development of the latest digital infrastructure in the service of SEZ in all directions. Including: registration and licensing of companies on a one-stop-shop basis; Automation of customs operations; Providing standardized information to companies through the principle of electronic one-time entry; Digitization of import, export and transit procedures.

It should be noted that against the background of the pandemic, special economic zones have managed to review long-term strategies and continue to function normally using new opportunities. Free economic zones have taken various measures against the negative consequences of the pandemic. Including:  New preferential packages have been developed to support companies ; have been Provided free consulting services to companies and  Trained employees to work with digital technologies; Against the background of the pandemic, great efforts were made to attract new investments.

Studies have shown that SEZs, who own digital infrastructure and have experience working with digital technologies, have been able to respond more quickly to interruptions caused by Covid and continue to operate. At the same time, the effectiveness of the regulations introduced by the state and the support of the state towards special economic zones played a big role.

As a result of the pandemic economic crisis, special economic zones face many challenges. One of the most important of these is the disruption of the global value chain. To solve the problem, companies operating in SEZ need to diversify supply chains, strengthen entrepreneurial links with regional businesses.

SEZs need to develop post-crisis strategies to protect themselves from the negative impacts of a pandemic economic crisis and reduce the expected risks. The introduction of an Enterprise Risk Management Framework will facilitate the process of restoring the operation of the SEZ. Opportunities for attracting new investments will increase if the incentive packages operating in SEZ include such offers as: modernized.