Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Developmental Director OKC Foreign Trade Zone Touts Advantages

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Developmental Director OKC Foreign Trade Zone Touts Advantages

Article excerpt

The people Jane Perri talks to want to know why it took so long to hear her pitch.

They're asking me, 'Why haven't I heard about this before? This is a no-brainer,' Perri said. Who wouldn't want an opportunity to save that kind of money?

Perri is in the midst of a campaign to draft new participants into Foreign Trade Zone 106. As the zone's developmental director, she's been traveling the state and appealing to commerce departments, economic development centers, industrial parks, chambers of commerce and similar business organizations to think big.

Xerox has saved about $750,000 annually by working within the zone, Perri said. ConocoPhillips has saved from $1.5 million to $2 million annually. Imation, which has been in and out of the program depending on its production line, has saved an estimated $6 million over the last four years, she said.

Sharon Schmelke, Xerox's zone administrator, said the company has been involved for three years. She would not discuss company figures, nor confirm Perri's savings estimates. The biggest benefit has been the ease of importing material, Schmelke said.

We've been approved for direct delivery, which means we can bypass all the customs holdups and ports, she said. That has really saved us a lot of time and money.

Xerox can save up to 10 days in delivery of the chemicals used in its printer and copying machine toner products. The company ships from Brazil and Japan.

And you're no longer just another name on a piece of paper, Schmelke said. You have a one-on-one relationship with your customs people.

That was one of the goals of the Foreign Trade Zones Act of 1934: to expedite and encourage foreign commerce. Merchandise within the designated zones - usually near U.S. Customs Ports of Entry - receive the same tax-free customs treatment they would as if the transactions occurred outside the United States. The tariff and tax protections effectively lower the costs of U.S.-based operations engaged in international trade, which helps strengthen the companies' bottom line.

In 1970 there were eight zone projects nationwide; today there are more than 250, customs officials confirmed. …

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