Miami Ushers in New Commercial Opportunities

September 6, 2012

Claire Maggio works in the Office of Public Affairs within the International Trade Administration. She holds a degree in political science from the University of Rochester.

Miami is known for a lot of things. The picturesque beaches, the exotic nightlife, and an incredibly vibrant culture are just a few of the things that make this city so unique. Yet there is far more than meets the eye. The city of Miami is also a bustling commercial hub with nearly limitless potential.

2010 saw Miami named the fifth largest metropolitan export market in the United States, with merchandise shipments totaling $35.9 billion. Helping to build on that strong performance, the Department of Commerce has announced the approval of PortMiami’s application for a Foreign Trade Zone(FTZ) that will not only serve the port’s facilities but allow quick FTZ access throughout the northern half of Miami-Dade County. As a result, the new FTZ will be able to help support trade-related activity and jobs at many South Florida businesses.

In 2010, the Port of Miami handled $36 billion in merchandise exports. The new foreign trade zone will boost this figure in the future (Photo PortMiami)

In 2010, the Port of Miami handled $36 billion in merchandise exports. The new foreign trade zone will boost this figure in the future (Photo PortMiami)

For purposes of customs duties, FTZs are treated as if outside U.S. territory. All goods entering the FTZs remain tariff free, with exports shipped from zones avoiding duty payments while shipments to the U.S. market only face duties when they leave the zones. So, for example, if a South Florida business sells both U.S. and foreign-made products to customers around the world, that business can use the FTZ to receive, warehouse and re-export products duty-free, reducing its costs and helping it to compete better with foreign-based rivals.

In addition to ordinary FTZ activities like storage, packaging, testing, labeling and repairing, businesses can conduct manufacturing in FTZs after a case-by-case approval process conducted by the U.S. FTZ Board (which has authority to bar activity that would not be in the public interest). U.S. Customs and Border Protection oversees all companies using FTZs to ensure that security and accounting requirements are met.

There are already nearly twenty foreign trade zones across the state, and the new FTZ in Miami is sure to boost investment and commercial activity in Florida. While the state had many profitable shipping centers and hubs, Miami alone accounted for two-thirds of all of the state’s merchandise exports in 2010 while 14 percent of all manufacturing workers in Florida depended on exports for their jobs in 2009. That’s a lot of valuable jobs that can help contribute to our economic recovery, and underscores just how important exports are to the Floridian and national economies.

The new Miami FTZ will provide Florida business with enhanced opportunities to minimize costs as they conduct international trade. To learn more about FTZs in Florida or anywhere else across the country, as well as to find information about other key tools for U.S. exporters, I encourage you to visit our website, www.trade.gov.

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