Louisiana ranked second nationwide in the value of merchandise received in its foreign-trade zones and fifth in the number of people employed there, according to a report by the National Association of Foreign-Trade Zones.
Louisiana received goods valued at $129.5 billion in the 2010 fiscal year, the latest data available, according to the report, while 17,650 Louisiana residents worked in the specially set-aside zones.
Louisiana ranked No. 11 in foreign-trade zone exports, at $957 million, the report shows.
There are 76 businesses operating in the state’s foreign trade zones, also good for the No. 11 spot.
A foreign-trade zone is a designated area within the United States into which foreign goods can be transported free of duties and tariffs as long as the goods remain outside the U.S. market.
Zones are commonly used for warehousing merchandise or as locations for processing or assembling foreign goods into finished products before they enter the U.S. marketplace. Zones also are used for exporting goods. Major industries in zone manufacturing include petroleum, refining, pharmaceuticals, machinery, equipment and automakers.
Zones, typically located near ports of entry, are in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lake Charles, Gramercy, Shreveport, Alexandria and Terrebonne Parish, according to a federal government website. Most have formed subzones occupied by petrochemical and industrial plants.
“Export growth is a critical component for our national economic recovery,” said NAFTZ President Daniel Griswold. “This report documents how market-leading firms are using the foreign-trade zone tool to boost exports and profits despite continued sluggish economic conditions.”
Nationwide, the combined value of merchandise received by the zones in the United States and Puerto Rico grew to $543.3 billion, a 24 percent increase over the previous year, the report shows. During the same period, FTZ exports totaled $34.8 billion, a 23 percent increase that outpaced the 16 percent growth in exports generated by the overall U.S. economy.