The Port of Virginia, pictured, and surrounding communities stand to benefit from a modification to the foreign trade zone.
The Port of Virginia, pictured, and surrounding communities stand to benefit from a modification to the foreign trade zone.

Trade zone benefits port

Published 9:03pm Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Port of Virginia users in Suffolk and several nearby localities stand to benefit after a U.S. Department of Commerce board modified the regional foreign trade zone, according to the port authority.

An application to modify the trade zone was lodged last spring, according to the Virginia Port Authority, and Commerce’s Foreign Trade Zones Board has granted approval.

“This is a very real tool that can be used to attract business to The Port of Virginia, Hampton Roads and the commonwealth,” John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the authority, stated in a press release.

“The benefits of the FTZ are significant, and this decision allows those benefits to become available in an expedited process.”

The update to the trade zone could encourage existing businesses to expand and entice new companies to Virginia, Reinhart stated.

Existing and new companies can now obtain trade zone site designation, which could allow them to defer, reduce or eliminate customs duties on parts, materials and components imported for manufacturing in the U.S., within 30 days. Previously, according to the authority, the designation could take up to a year.

The local foreign trade zone covers Chesapeake, Franklin, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach and Williamsburg, plus Gloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, Mathews, Northampton, Southampton, Sussex, Surry and York counties, plus part of Accomack County.

In a statement, Gov. Terry McAuliffe hailed the federal decision: “This new development at The Port of Virginia will encourage companies — current and potential port users — to choose to do business and create jobs within the Foreign Trade Zone that is primarily served by our port.”

Under the reorganization, according to the authority, customs duties are paid only on products entering the U.S., not on products exported outside of the U.S.

In Suffolk, companies could speed the process up even more by choosing to locate within the Virginia Regional Commerce Park or CenterPoint Intermodal Center.

Virginia has six foreign trade zones.

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