Annual Review & Outlook 2013: QuestaWeb

Felix PekarThe outlook for 2013 is unpredictable, even with the presidential election behind us. The sluggish economy that’s been a part of the business landscape for so long likely will continue. It’s also a safe guess that the costs of doing business will rise, with higher taxes probable. Companies will seek ways to minimize operational costs, and logistics will remain a prime candidate. Mmost of the “low-hanging fruit,” however, is long gone from supply chains, and companies now will contemplate more creative cost-cutting strategies.

North American importers will find that a foreign trade zone presents a viable means to minimize fees, duties and taxes. When importing products into the United States, FTZs allow duty deferral until products enter U.S. commerce. For companies importing parts and manufacturing prior to product export, FTZs not only allow duty deferral on incoming parts, but also on outgoing products. FTZs frequently increase speed to market and help companies avoid most state and local inventory taxes on goods kept within the FTZ.

Companies have the option to outsource FTZ management and operation or keep these functions in-house. Such choices simplify the decision to move to an FTZ and make it faster and less expensive to implement an FTZ than ever. Still, compliance with the numerous laws and regulations can be tricky. Software technology bridges this gap, allowing companies to operate FTZs compliantly, regardless of the FTZ model chosen. Some software solutions accommodate more than one FTZ within the same system, which is especially important to third-party logistics providers operating FTZs.

FTZs represent a business strategy for 2013 that’s not just good for corporate bottom lines, but also for U.S. commerce, which means more jobs and a stronger economy overall.

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