​At $732.2 billion, the 2012 value of received merchandise into FTZs also reached a new high, surpassing for the first time the previous pre-recession 2008 record of $692.6 billion. The 2012 received merchandise included $303.8 billion in foreign-status inputs, an increase of 66.9 percent over the 2011 recession low of $182 billion.

Daniel Griswold, President of the National Association of Foreign-Trade Zones, praised the report’s findings. “Foreign-Trade Zones across the nation are rebounding strongly from the recession and setting new records in all areas of commerce,” said Griswold. “This success is fed by the growing number of U.S. companies that are buying and selling in global markets. Four hundred additional U.S. companies began using FTZs in 2012, for a new total of 3,200 firms, and employment in FTZs increased by almost 9 percent, far faster than the overall growth in U.S. employment.”

“The Foreign-Trade Zones program has once again proven itself to be one of the most efficient and effective policy tools for promoting international trade, foreign investment, and the creation of well-paying, sustainable jobs in the private sector,” continued Mr. Griswold. “The Foreign-Trade Zones Board’s adoption of streamlined procedures and continued application of the Alternative Site Framework have contributed greatly to the success that is so obvious today.”

“In 2010, President Obama announced his administration’s National Export Initiative (NEI) and set a goal of doubling the level of U.S. exports by the end of 2014,” said Griswold. “Thanks to the efforts of thousands of companies and their employees, businesses involved in Foreign-Trade Zones have reached and surpassed that goal two years ahead of schedule!”

There were 174 active FTZs during 2012, with a total of 276 active manufacturing/production operations. Approximately 370,000 persons were employed at 3,200 firms that used FTZs during the year – an increase of 30,000 employees and 400 participating companies over 2011. The FTZ Board approved five new foreign-trade zones in 2012, and reorganized 38 zones under the alternative site framework (ASF).