The Port of Virginia has obtained approval from the U.S. Department of Commerce to expand the port's foreign trade zone (FTZ) capabilities into northeast North Carolina, port officials disclosed today.
The approval clears the way for Elizabeth City, N.C., and seven North Carolina counties to be included in the port's "Foreign Trade Zone 20." The FTZ is the largest in the Commonwealth of Virginia, with 17 locations for production, warehousing, and distribution. The counties, which were previously not in any FTZ service area, asked to be included in the port's geography because no FTZ in North Carolina was close enough to sponsor their inclusion.
In the U.S., an FTZ is an area—usually near a port of entry—where imported goods can be stored and processed without being subject to U.S. Customs duties. Goods manufactured for re-export outside of U.S. commerce are also not subject to Customs duties. Manufacturers receive the most benefit from an FTZ when the duty rate on raw materials is higher than the duties on the finished product, and when import volumes are elevated.
In a statement, John F. Reinhart, the port's CEO, said it has traditionally been the global gateway for commerce moving to and from northeast North Carolina. The new FTZ designation will "provide these communities additional opportunities to promote the connections to the port, and (the) benefits of the FTZ," Reinhart said.
The Commerce Department made its decision on Nov. 29.