New economic opportunities and Lansing's Foreign Trade Zone

Publish Date: Sunday, November 15, 2009

Local business experts came together for the Global Business Club luncheon and workshop at the Henry Center on October 20th to explore new economic opportunities and developments related to the Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) in Lansing.

Keynote speaker Robert F. Selig, Executive Director of the Capital Region International Airport, introduced the new facilities and the future plans for Port Lansing in his speech, "Lansing's International Port of Entry and Foreign Trade Zone."

Port Lansing provides global logistics services to help companies with the entire process of international trade, including: air cargo, customs brokers, freight forwarding, logistics coordinators, packaging, rail freight shipping and warehousing & facilities. Port Lansing is mid-Michigan's only U.S. port of entry that allows goods and passengers to clear customs through U.S. Customs & Border Protection.

"What Port Lansing means for the public and business community is these significant functions can be performed locally without having to travel to congested metro hubs like Detroit and Chicago," said Selig during the speech.  

Brent Case, FTZ International Market Manager, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, gave a presentation at the morning workshop about "How an FTZ works." An FTZ is an area within the United States, in or near a U.S. Customs port of entry, where foreign and domestic merchandise is considered to be outside the country, or at least outside of U.S. customs territory. Certain types of merchandise can be imported into a zone without going through formal duties.

Possible benefits of using an FTZ were outlined through a panel discussion and case study. The panel group consisted of three speakers: Sten Sj√∂berg, Director of Business Development and Quality, Demmer Corporation; Owen Johnston, Vice President-Treasurer, Bekum America Corporation; Nicole Noll-Williams, Director of Regional Market Development, Capital Region International Airport. For example, when it comes to importing glass mirrors to be used in the assembly of an automobile, which have a normal duty rate of 7.8%, the FTZ program applies the duty rate of 2.5% and saves the company $53,000. 

Attendees also had great expectations about what the FTZ could bring to Michigan's economic development. "I am very pleased to learn more about FTZ for my customers' benefit. Particularly, the companies importing products with high import duties and re-exporting them can make tremendous savings since the value-added work within the zone do not have to pay any U.S duties." said William E. Richeson, Senior Vice President of National City Bank.   

To educate and train companies to increase their capacity for international commerce, Port Lansing is partnered with education resources, including Michigan State University's Center for International Business Education and Research (MSU-CIBER).

The next Global Business Club meeting will take place November 17. Andrew Mangan, Executive Director for United States Business Council for Sustainable Development, will speak about developing sustainable supply chain partners internationally in "Using Joint Ventures to Expand Your Business Abroad in a Sustainable Manner."

Written by KyuJin Shim for the International Business Center