Logistics, Warehousing & Distribution

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FTZ Corporation Helps U.S.-based Businesses Compete in a Global Economy

31 Aug, 2009

By: Greg Jones

The Foreign-Trade Zone Corporation is the only nationally recognized consulting firm that limits its practice to the U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones program. The U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones program is a federal trade program that is designed to enhance the operational competitiveness of U.S-based manufacturing and distribution operations by enabling them to reduce their international logistics and Customs duty costs. The senior consultants of the Foreign-Trade Zone Corporation have more than 60 years of cumulative experience in setting up and running manufacturing and distribution operations that conduct their business under FTZ procedures.

Craig Pool, the company’s president and one of its three senior consultants said, “The FTZ Corporation provides the best solution for companies that are considering the use of U.S. FTZs, and those who are already using them. We provide a complete turn-key set of services and products for those who are taking a serious look at using FTZs to lower their Customs-related costs. We do very detailed cost-benefit analyses that help company executives make informed decisions before getting into the FTZ program. In cases where an application to the U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones Board is required, we help companies obtain Zone status. In fact, we have done several applications that have resulted in precedent-setting decisions by the FTZ Board.”

Seth Morrison, the company’s FTZ analyst, added, “Our understanding of the Board’s methodology in evaluating applications, and the way in which the FTZ program operates within the context of overall U.S. trade policy has been vital to our clients’ success. As we put together an application, we take a good hard look at any trade policy issues that could have an effect on its outcome. I think this has a great deal to do with our 100 percent success rate in getting applications approved.”

Trudy Huguet, the company’s vice-president, is often directly involved in helping companies obtain Customs approval for FTZ “activation,” and for their ongoing operational success. “We help companies integrate FTZ procedures into the way they already conduct their business,” she said. “In helping companies obtain approval to activate from U.S. Customs, we help them establish Zone procedures that make sense for the way in which they currently operate, and, at the same time, comply with Customs’ operational requirements. We help our clients use as much existing company data as possible in providing FTZ or Customs-related information; however, we pay very close attention to make sure that the company information used for Customs purposes is appropriate. This is essential for ongoing compliance.”

The Foreign-Trade Zone Corporation also provides the user-friendly, regulatory compliant FTZ management software, SmartZone™. SmartZone™ was developed by the company in response of its clients’ need to deploy an automated FTZ management system quickly and cost-effectively. Joshua Guy, the company’s director of Software Development noted, “We have integrated SmartZone™ with many different company inventory and record keeping systems such as SAP, BAAN, BPCS, and Oracle Manufacturing. I think the factor that puts SmartZone™ head-and-shoulders above any other Zone-related software application is its Smart Client platform. With our programming technology, we can quickly and efficiently update the software to continuously expand its capabilities. With Smart Client architecture, the software user gets the responsiveness and rich user experience of the more traditional ‘thick client’ architecture, and the broad reach and easy deployment of so-called ‘thin client’ technology. Our customers and their IT staff members really like it.”

A significant part of the FTZ Corporation’s business involves the “re-engineering” of existing FTZ operations. Craig Pool noted, “About one-fourth of our business involves helping existing Zone users make their FTZ processes more easy and manageable. We see any number of cases in which companies are living with Zone procedures that are either cumbersome or non-compliant. Our experience in actually running Zone operations, and our credibility in explaining to Customs officials why certain discretionary procedures are appropriate and compliant, enables us to help people improve their day-to-day Zone operations, and in some cases, increase their FTZ savings.”

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Greg Jones

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