The Steps Your Company Can Take to Minimize the Impact

Look closely at the window sticker of a new vehicle and you may see a list of the larger foreign components (engine, transmission, etc.), and their country of origin. This is not unusual, as most manufacturing companies in the United States use a number of different components when producing or assembling a finished product. For example, an automobile assembled in the U.S. can have as much as 30%-40 % of its vehicle consist of foreign manufactured parts. Unfortunately, many of these components have significantly high import duties associated with their importation. Fortunately, there is a process that many companies can put in place to avoid paying these high tariff rates; they have employed a not well-known government statute known as the Foreign Trade Zone Act, (FTZ).  

What is the Foreign Trade Zone Act?

The Foreign Trade Zone Act was established by Congress in 1934 during the great depression. It was intended to be used as an incentive for U.S. manufacturers to continue manufacturing in the U.S. and not move manufacturing operations overseas.

How do Foreign Trade Zone Procedures work?

Foreign material that is moved into a Foreign Trade Zone is never dutiable, (tariffs never assessed) until it leaves the Foreign Trade Zone and is entered into the “Customs Territory”. The Foreign Trade zone can be identified simply as your manufacturing facility. In some instances, the component foreign material is exported from the Foreign Trade Zone and never enters the “Customs Territory” and therefore a tariff is never collected by U.S. Customs. When Anti-Dumping, (ADD) or Countervailing duties (CVD) are implemented by the U.S. government, (as President Trump has recently imposed on some imported steel and aluminum) a Foreign Trade Zone may be established to avoid those ADD’s/CVD’s only for those component parts that ultimately leave the FTZ and are exported outside the territory of the U.S.

According to the 2016 annual FTZ Report to Congress, some 3,300 businesses that employed more than 42,000 people leveraged the value and benefits of Foreign Trade Zones. In short, if your company can utilize the benefits of a Foreign Trade Zone by eliminating the ability of the government to collect tariffs on imported material, it’s something to seriously consider.

For further information on Foreign Trade Zone’s or for a free consultation to determine if your business would benefit from establishing an FTZ, please contact us at or visit our website at