U.S. FOREIGN-TRADE ZONES PROGRAM
The foreign-trade zones (FTZs) program was authorized by Congress in 1934 (FTZ Act - 19 USC 81a-81u) and is used to help encourage activity and value-added at U.S. facilities in competition with foreign alternatives by allowing delayed or reduced duty payments on foreign merchandise, as well as other savings.
- Enhancing Competitiveness. By reducing costs, FTZs level the playing field and improve U.S. competitiveness. FTZs can help businesses reduce production, transaction, and logistics-related costs by lowering effective duty rates, allowing special entry procedures, and encouraging production closer to market. Reducing costs through FTZ use can lead to more competitive U.S. operations, thereby helping to maintain U.S. activity and jobs.
- Creating/Retaining Jobs and Encouraging Investment. By helping local employers remain competitive, zones can contribute to maintaining or boosting employment opportunities. And lower FTZ-based production costs encourage increased investment in U.S. facilities.
ABOUT THE FTZ PROGRAM
• The FTZ Act prohibits residence within a zone
• With the exception of formal customs entry procedures, all other local, state and federal laws and regulations apply (including labor and immigration laws)
• FTZs remain under the direct supervision of U.S. Customs and Border Protection
• FTZs are within the territory of the U.S. and merchandise stored in a FTZ is considered imported into the U.S.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A FOREIGN-TRADE ZONE?
In the global marketplace, many companies consider moving to foreign facilities to reduce costs. The benefits of the Foreign-Trade Zone program may be the competitive advantage that companies need to keep their manufacturing or distribution operations in the United States. These include:
- No duties on imported goods that are later re-exported
- Delayed payment of duties on goods that enter the U.S. market
- Manufacturing-specific benefits – with case-by-case approval by the FTZ Board – that can include reduction of duties if a lower tariff rate applies to the finished product leaving the zone than the tariff rates that would have applied on foreign components (“inverted tariff”)
- Elimination of duties on waste, scrap and rejected or defective parts
- Reductions in merchandise processing fees because zone users may be able to file a single customs “entry” (and pay a single fee) per week rather than making multiple entries during the course of a week
USING A FOREIGN-TRADE ZONE
Once a zone location has been established by the FTZ Board, companies are required to “activate” the zone with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) prior to beginning FTZ operations. Zone activity occurs under the supervision of CBP and FTZs remain within the jurisdiction of all other local, state and federal governments or agencies.
LEGAL AUTHORITY AND REQUIREMENTS
- FTZ Act of 1934 (19 U.S.C. 81a-81u) established the FTZ Board (Commerce, Treasury) to license and regulate FTZ’s.
- FTZ Board regulations (15 CFR Part 400).
- CBP’s FTZ regulations (19 CFR Part 146).
•Activation - Once a zone or subzone site is approved by the FTZ Board, an application must be made to the local U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) office, with the concurrence of the FTZ grantee, to operate the zone/subzone site (or portion thereof) under FTZ procedures. This CBP process is known as activation generally includes steps such as background checks, a written procedures manual, posting a bond with CBP, as well as a review of the security of the site(s) and the inventory control methods.
•Activation Limit - The size of the physical area of a particular zone or subzone authorized by the Board to be simultaneously in activated status with CBP pursuant to 19 CFR 146.6. The activation limit for a particular zone/subzone is a figure explicitly specified by the Board in authorizing the zone (commonly 2,000 acres) or subzone or, in the absence of a specified figure, the total of the sizes of the approved sites of the zone/subzone.
•Admit, Admission - The CBP terms describing the shipment of merchandise into U.S. foreign-trade zones under CBP supervision (19 CFR 146.1).
•Alternative site framework (ASF) - An optional approach to designation and management of zone sites allowing greater flexibility and responsiveness to serve single-operator/user locations. The ASF was adopted by the Board as a matter of practice in December 2008 (74 FR 1170, January 12, 2009; correction 74 FR 3987, January 22, 2009) and modified by the Board in November 2010 (75 FR 71069, November 22, 2010).
•Articles Consumed - Interpretation of the FTZ Act holds that all materials to be consumed in manufacturing or processing operations within a zone must first be entered for consumption with duties paid.
•Board - See Foreign-Trade Zones Board
•CBP - U.S. Customs and Border Protection of the Department of Homeland Security
•Deactivation - A previously activated general purpose zone or subzone site which no longer has local CBP authorization for activity under FTZ procedures.
•Domestic status - Describes merchandise that is mainly of domestic origin but also includes foreign-origin merchandise on which customs entry and duty payments have been made prior to admission to the zone site.
•Entry for Consumption - The term that describes the general customs process of filing the appropriate CBP documents (including duty evaluation) that allows merchandise to be brought into the commerce of the U.S. (19 CFR 141). With respect to foreign-trade zones, this process occurs when merchandise is shipped from the zone into U.S. commerce.
•Exports - The category of merchandise that is forwarded from zone sites to destinations in foreign countries.
•Foreign-Trade Zone - (FTZ or zone) includes one or more restricted-access sites, including subzones, in or adjacent (as defined by Sec. 400.11(b)(2)) to a CBP port of entry, operated as a public utility (within the meaning of Sec. 400.42) under the sponsorship of a zone grantee authorized by the Board, with zone operations under the supervision of CBP.
•Foreign-Trade Zones Board - Consists of the Secretary of Commerce (chairman) and the Secretary of Treasury, or their designated alternates.
•Foreign Status - Describes zone merchandise admitted to a zone site under CBP supervision that is normally of foreign origin. Such merchandise is admitted to zone sites without being subject to formal customs entry procedures and payment of duties, unless and until the foreign merchandise enters customs territory for domestic consumption. Foreign status merchandise is further categorized by CBP as either Non-Privileged Foreign or Privileged Foreign
•Forwarded - The category of merchandise that is shipped from or forwarded from zone sites after release by CBP. This category includes merchandise that is forwarded to destinations in the U.S. market as well as merchandise that is exported—that is, forwarded to markets in foreign countries.
•Grant of Authority - A document issued by the Board that authorizes a zone grantee to establish, operate and maintain a zone, subject to limitations and conditions specified in this part and in 19 CFR part 146. The authority to establish a zone includes the responsibility to manage it.
•Grantee - See Zone Grantee
•Inactive - A site or subzone site that has been approved by the FTZ Board, but is not “activated” with CBP. No activity under FTZ procedures is occurring at an inactive site.
•Lapse Provision - A grant of authority for a zone or a subzone shall lapse unless the zone, or subzone facility, is activated, pursuant to 19 CFR Part 146, and in operation not later than five years from the date of the Board order.
•Magnet site - A site intended to serve or attract multiple operators or users under the ASF.
•Merchandise Received - Involves merchandise received into activated FTZ space under FTZ procedures by foreign-trade zones and subzones. It includes foreign status merchandise and domestic status merchandise.
•Non-Privileged Foreign (NPF) Status - One of the customs categories of foreign status merchandise (See 19 CFR 146.42). Such merchandise is evaluated based on its condition at the time it is shipped from the zone to the U.S. market and entered for consumption by CBP.
•Operator - See Zone Operator
•Person - Includes any individual, corporation, or entity.
•Port of Entry - A port of entry in the United States, as defined by part 101 of the regulations of CBP (19 CFR part 101), or a user fee airport authorized under 19 U.S.C. 58b and listed in part 122 of the regulations of CBP (19 CFR part 122).
•Privileged Foreign (PF) Status - One of the customs categories of foreign status merchandise (See 19 CFR 146.41). Such merchandise maintains its status based on its condition when it was admitted to the zone. Thus, when the merchandise is shipped from the zone to the U.S. market and entered for consumption by CBP, it is evaluated based on the time-of-admission condition even though it may have undergone a transformation in the zone.
•Production - Activity involving the substantial transformation of a foreign article resulting in a new and different article having a different name, character, and use, or activity involving a change in the condition of the article which results in a change in the customs classification of the article or in its eligibility for entry for consumption.
•Service Area - The jurisdiction(s) within which a grantee proposes to be able to designate sites via minor boundary modifications under the ASF.
•Subzone - A site (or group of sites) established for a specific use.
•Terminated - If a site or subzone is no longer needed, the grantee can request that the FTZ Board remove the site/subzone designation. Upon such action by the FTZ Board, the site or subzone is then considered terminated.
•Usage-Driven Site - A site tied to a single operator or user under the ASF.
•User - See Zone User
•Zone - A foreign-trade zone (see above) established under the provisions of the FTZ Act and regulations. The term also includes subzones, unless the context indicates otherwise.
•Zone Grantee - The corporate recipient of a grant of authority for a zone. The term “grantee” means “zone grantee” unless otherwise indicated.
•Zone Operator - A corporation, partnership, or person that operates within a site or subzone under the terms of an agreement with the zone grantee (or third party on behalf of the grantee) with the concurrence of the Port Director of CBP.
•Zone Restricted Status - Merchandise in this status is to be exported or destroyed. Zone-restricted status merchandise can be entered into U.S. customs territory only if the FTZ Board finds that entry would be in the public interest.
•Zone Schedule - To be kept by the zone grantee, the zone schedule includes the internal rules and regulations of the zone, as well as a statement of the rates and fees charged to zone users.
•Zone Site (Site) - A physical location of a zone or subzone. A site is composed of one or more generally contiguous parcels of land organized and functioning as an integrated unit, such as all or part of an industrial park or airport facility.
•Zone Status - Merchandise can enter the zone in either domestic or foreign status. Domestic status can include foreign status goods where the duty has been paid and the goods entered for consumption. Foreign status includes privileged foreign, non-privileged foreign and zone-restricted status.
•Zone User - A party using a zone under agreement with a zone operator.