At the NAFTZ’s 43rd Annual Conference, which recently concluded in Los Angeles, California, more than 420 participants were brought together under the theme “FTZs: A Star Attraction for U.S. Trade & Investment.” As one of the nation’s busiest ports in the United States, Los Angeles was the perfect venue for four days of networking, education, and fun with foreign-trade zone professionals from all sectors of the FTZ community. The conference opened with a Sunday evening reception.
At the conference’s opening general session on Monday, Eric Caris, Director of Cargo Marketing for the Port of Los Angeles, discussed the importance of Foreign-Trade Zones to the state and local economy. The Port of Los Angeles ranks number one in inbound Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) in North America and is number ten globally. The existing infrastructure and ongoing expansion of terminals and warehousing will make the port more attractive for trade in both directions.
His speech was followed by Anne Maricich, Acting Director, Office of Field Operations – Los Angeles/Long Beach, CA, and Director, Centers of Excellence and Expertise, Electronics. She gave an overview of the Trusted Trader program, which she defined as a holistic approach towards supply chain security and trade compliance. Later, she addressed ACE implementation and key dates for ACE transition. She stated that Customs at Port of LA oversees 76 zone sites across seven counties.
Monday’s keynote speaker, Deputy Assistant USTR Christina Sevilla cited record exports and jobs from FTZs in 2014. She said trade has accounted for one-third of U.S. growth since 2009. Another important figure that she shared was that export jobs pay on average 18% more than non-export jobs. She urged NAFTZ members to support congressional approval of the recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.
Monday also marked the grand opening of the exhibition hall. Seventeen FTZ related software vendors, consultants, and ports showcased their offerings to an audience of hundreds of enthusiastic FTZ professionals. The day came to a close with the conference’s Grand Opening Networking Reception, which was sponsored by Amber Road.
Tuesday’s program featured addresses by NAFTZ President Dan Griswold and FTZ Board Executive Secretary Andrew McGilvray. President Griswold reported on the Association’s events throughout the year, analyzed key statistics released in the recent FTZ Board Annual Report, and shared details on NAFTZs advocacy agenda for 2016. Executive Secretary McGilvray’s presentation revealed that 2014 case levels were near 2013’s all-time high. He stated that the high case numbers in recent years were a direct result of the Alternative Site Framework.
McGilvray also mentioned that the FTZ Board was planning an outreach and training event for grantees on October 1st at the Loews Hollywood Hotel. Training on grantee roles and responsibilities along with discussion on related topics of interest to attendees were key components of this event. McGilvray ended his presentation with a discussion on framing the “Scope of Authority” for production operations. The Foreign-Trade Zones Board staff was well represented at the conference, including Elizabeth Whiteman, Camille Evans, Diane Finver, and Marsha Foust.
At Tuesday evening’s social event, attendees and their guests enjoyed the Main Event Reception at the poolside while enjoying hors d’oeuvres. This memorable event was hosted by Integration Point and the Port of Houston Authority.
At the Annual Business Meeting on Wednesday, September 30, the membership elected four new Board Members: Angie Atwood, Lesley Couch, Shannon Fura, and James Grogan. Jose Quinonez, a Grantee and Foreign-Trade Zone Manager of the City of El Paso, FTZ No. 68 in Texas, accepted the gavel from outgoing Chair Jan Frantz.
When not meeting in General Session, members were able to choose from a range of timely topics offered in tracks for Operator/Users, Grantees, the Petroleum sector, and Fundamentals of FTZs. The return of the Advanced Track was well received, with one attendee stating on our event app survey “…great knowledge and pointers from the speakers, thank you!” The track covered topics like entry reconciliation, in-bond summary. NAFTA duty deferral & temporary removal, and vendor managed inventory.
Finally, NAFTZ would like to thank all the sponsors, attendees, speakers, organizers, press, and everyone who helped make this wonderful event possible. We hope you can join us in October in Orlando, Florida for our next Annual Conference & Exposition!
View the conference photos.