SAVANNAH, GA USA – On November 6 and 7, World Trade Center Savannah hosted two global education programs on the U.S. Foreign-Trade Zone program. The first program served as an introduction to Foreign-Trade Zone and its benefits while the second program was a more in-depth, tailored session aimed towards companies already operating in Foreign-Trade Zones.
The Foreign-Trade Zone program offers cost savings to businesses importing materials and equipment for manufacturing operations or warehousing products for distribution. Foreign-Trade Zones are restricted access sites that are within the geographic limits of the United States but are considered outside of US commerce and customs territory. Companies that operate in Foreign-Trade Zones can defer, reduce or eliminate customs duties on foreign products admitted into zones for storage, assembly, manufacturing and exhibition, testing, labeling or destruction.
The concept of the Foreign-Trade Zone program is very similar to free trade zones or duty-deferral programs in countries throughout the world however; the Foreign-Trade Zone program in the United States does not limit all products to only one designated site. Instead, companies participating in the Foreign-Trade Zone program in the United States can designate their own manufacturing or warehousing site as a Foreign-Trade Zone and receive the full benefits of the program.
Because of this distinction and because the program is open not only to U.S. enterprises but, U.S.-based enterprises and affiliates as well, the Foreign-Trade Zone program often plays a role in attracting foreign direct investment. According to the article U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones Attract FDI to United States published by the National Association of Foreign-Trade Zones, “Automotive companies using the program include such well-known international nameplates as BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota. Locating in a U.S. Foreign-Trade Zone allows affiliates to continue to source materials and components from international suppliers at global competitive prices, while employing productive U.S. workers creating products for the world’s largest domestic market as well as for export.”
The article goes on to offer examples of the benefits the program has created for companies. An example included was BMW Manufacturing Co. in Greer, South Carolina who announced in 2012 that it would invest an additional $900 million in its four-million-square-foot facility. The plant now produces more than 300,000 vehicles per year, employs 7,000 workers and exports more than $5 billion in motor vehicles from its Foreign-Trade Zone sub-zone, 70 percent of total production.
Leigh Ryan, Director of Trade Services and Foreign-Trade Zone 104 for WTC Savannah said that the Foreign-Trade Zone program aligns with the mission and goals of WTC Savannah which are to attract investment and create jobs.
“Every day World Trade Center Savannah works with businesses in our region to explore the possibilities and opportunities that can help their business expand and grow. The Foreign-Trade Zone program is one more tool that we can promote and offer businesses in our region and we are happy to be able to educate our region on the benefits of the program.”
WTC Savannah is pleased to be the Grantee of Foreign-Trade Zone 104 and enthusiastically utilizes the program to foster growth within the Savannah region.
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