The value of goods leaving Greater Detroit Foreign Trade Zone, Inc. (GDFTZ) zones in 2007 was the second highest in 10 years. Goods valued at $12.0 billion were shipped from Detroit-area FTZs in 2007, slightly lower than last year’s $12.5 billion. In 1997, the last year domestic automakers used the zones program, a volume of goods worth a record $34.4 billion was forwarded. Since that time, foreign-trade zone use by the automotive OEMs, perennially the largest user of foreign-trade zones, has been in decline across the country. Changes in GATT reduced or eliminated significant trade barriers, allowing most imported components used in the manufacture of automobiles to enter the US duty free. Exports to other countries in 2007 from Detroit zones equaled almost $400 million.

General-purpose zone activity, last year, was the highest it’s ever been. The 15 active general-purpose zones served 33 firms and handled 3,263 commodities from 19 different foreign countries. Merchandise forwarded from GDFTZ zones was valued at more than $2.5 billion. The value of exports to other countries from these zones equaled $305 million.

During 2007, one subzone was operating in an automotive manufacturing facility, the AutoAlliance International plant in Flat Rock. Marathon Ashland Petroleum, LLC in Detroit and Wacker Chemical Corporation in Adrian, Michigan operated the other active subzones. Fifteen general-purpose zones served a diverse range of companies during the year at four locations in the city of Detroit and in Romulus, Riverview, Melvindale, Taylor, Temperance and Troy.

Active general-purpose zones included the Detroit International Bridge Company; Progressive Distribution Centers, Inc. in Detroit and Melvindale; W.F. Whelan Co. in Romulus and Taylor, Metro International Trade Services, Inc. with sites in Romulus, Riverview and Detroit; and Northwest Airlines, Inc. at Metro Airport. Additional zones were active last year at Empire Electronics in Troy, Michelin North America in Temperance and BP Products in Taylor.

Foreign trade zones permit foreign and domestic goods to be stored, distributed, combined with other foreign or domestic products, or used in manufacturing operations while in the zone. No Customs duty is paid on goods in a foreign trade zone until they are transferred to US commerce. The zones encourage the export of goods since imported goods may be exported from a zone duty free.

Detroit zones are licensed by Greater Detroit Foreign Trade Zone, Inc., a non-profit corporation administered by the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority.