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OED hosts well-attended forum on Foreign Trade Zones


As a Foreign Trade Zone grantee, the 18th in the country, San Jose’s Office of Economic Development held an event to provide Silicon Valley companies insights into the advantages of operating within an FTZ. The Forum was held at City Hall on March 5,  and attracted more than 100 participants, who heard from representatives of the Federal agencies that oversee FTZ usage and operations, companies taking advantage of the benefits of operating within the Silicon Valley FTZ , and a noted legal expert on foreign trade and tariff issues. Speakers included:

  • Elizabeth Whiteman, Senior Analyst, FTZ Board, US Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C.
  • Joanne Vliet, Director, US Commercial Office, Silicon Valley Office, US Department of Commerce
  • John F. McKenzie, Baker & McKenzie, LLP
  • Joe Hedges, International Program Manager, OED, City of San Jose, FTZ #18 grantee.

    Joe Hedges, OED International Program Manager, welcomes attendees to the Forum

A panel discussion included representatives of Tesla, Inc., and RK Logistics. Shannon Kastriotis, Program Manager/Trade Programs, Tesla, Inc. pointed out some of the ways  Tesla was able to utilize the FTZ to benefit the company’s bottom line, even as Tesla transitioned its mission from producing electric cars to working towards promoting energy sustainability. RK Logistics’ COO and President, Rock Magnam, explained how his company works with Tesla, Lam Research and Bloom Energy and the ways in which the impacts of a changing tariff environment can be managed when the company can operate within an FTZ.

John McKenzie provided an outspoken and detailed accounting of the changes over 2018 in the US’s tariff picture, and how companies can best manage the uncertainties.

For context, the audience was interested to learn that FTZs provide significant public benefits, including the promotion of international trade, helping US companies compete internationally, retaining onshore production and supporting US jobs. in 2017, the US exported $87 billion worth of products through FTZs. 3,200 companies and some 450,000 employees in the US operate under FTZs.  The industry sectors most likely to use FTZs are petroleum products, pharmaceuticals, automotive, chemical and electronics.

For more information, contact Joe Hedges, 408 535-8186.  Click on the link below to view the video of the forum on YouTube.