In Mississippi, there is a contradictory circumstance of workers, who are dependent on both the growth of global trade and on protection from its counterproductive side effects. The tough competition associated with today’s international trade environment is not an insurmountable barrier for U.S.-based manufacturers, however. To remain competitive, those companies often turn to the U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZ) program. The program permits a reduction of tariff costs on imported parts and materials used in products manufactured for domestic consumption, while foreign based export-production only “Free Trade Zones” do not.
Companies with Mississippi manufacturing operations that use the FTZ program include Nissan, Chevron-Texaco, Northrop-Grumman, VT Halter Marine, Alliant Aerospace, and Signal International. Through the FTZ program, they reduce tariff costs on imported parts and materials, for export production and for domestic consumption. With nearly $9 billion in Zone-related economic activity last year, including nearly 1$ billion in value-added activity, Mississippi companies in the FTZ program employ 18,000, with 8,000 of those involved with Zone-related activity. In some instances, products “Made in Mississippi” can displace finished products that might otherwise be produced overseas.
A recent expansion of the Greater Mississippi Foreign-Trade Zone is aimed at helping Northern Mississippi furniture manufacturers to keep their costs down and their doors open. To whatever extent the FTZ program benefits the furniture industry in Mississippi, it will enable many workers to enjoy the blessings of free trade, rather than bear its costs.
The U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones program, which has been in existence since 1934, is designed to improve the competitiveness of U.S.-based companies in international trade. The program does this by helping them reduce their tariff-related costs.
Jones began working in the FTZ program in 1986, and has been an active member in the National Association of Foreign Trade Zone (NAFTZ) since 1987. He served as president from 1993 to 1995, and was designated as an Honorary Life Member in 2000. The Foreign-Trade Zone Corporation is a service provider offering FTZ cost-benefit analyses, FTZ Board applications, training, assistance in designing, creating and managing Zone projects, and Foreign-Trade Zone management software.