As summer winds down, things are ramping up for NAFTZ as we head towards our Annual Conference and Exposition in Miami. I’ve met many of you earlier this year at our in-person events and look forward to meeting even more of you in Miami.
One of NAFTZ’s top priorities right now is the ongoing USITC study on US FTZs and similar programs in Canada and Mexico. As you may know, NAFTZ formed a Task Force chaired by Executive Committee member James Grogan. This committee has been meeting regularly since the spring and will continue to meet through November. As a brief reminder, this study has been commissioned to investigate three areas:
The next major milestone in the investigation process is the distribution of a FTZ Questionnaire which will be sent out in early September to all FTZs with FTZ Board production authority and production activity since 2016. FTZ Questionnaires are required by law to be completed, and there will be a short, 30-day deadline to respond after receipt of the questionnaire. The USITC has sent out emails to contacts at production FTZs to alert them to look out for an email later this month with the FTZ Questionnaire. If you believe you should have received such an email from the USITC given the criteria above but didn’t receive this email, you can contact the USITC team and provide them with updated contact information.
The NAFTZ USITC Study Task Force reviewed the initial draft of the FTZ Questionnaire and noted the questionnaire’s large number of detailed questions which will likely prove to be a significant, time-consuming effort to complete. In the draft document, the USITC estimated 20 hours to complete, but the NAFTZ Task Force believes this to be a conservative estimate depending on the level of zone activity, internal resources, and software capabilities. Several of the data points may be difficult to quantify. For instance, questions include annual number of employees, total wages paid, and hours worked, as well as annual values of import and export shipments broken down by Domestic, Privileged Foreign (PF), and Non-Privileged Foreign (NPF) zone status inputs and value added.
Given the detailed, in-depth nature of the questions, FTZ users with production authority may want to start gathering information, running reports, and preparing responses to the FTZ Questionnaire. The official final FTZ Questionnaire will need to be completed and submitted via a USITC secure website, and there will be an opportunity to review, edit, and download a copy before officially submitting the final questionnaire.
NAFTZ also finds it necessary to identify firms that have since 2016 have either:
Obviously, there is no database or central record of firms falling under these two situations making it very difficult for the USITC to gather information from firms with this experience. However, NAFTZ believes it’s critical that firms with these negative experiences be included in the data for this study as they cut to the core of competitiveness and the ability to keep American jobs in the US through FTZs.
If you have any questions, comments or thoughts for the NAFTZ USITC Study Task Force, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Task Force Chair James Grogan at James.Grogan@FTIConsulting.com.
We will be presenting the latest information on the study at the NAFTZ annual conference in Miami, and hosting another webinar with members of the USITC study team shortly after the final version of the Questionnaire is released.
Jeffrey J. Tafel, CAE