Clarke Covered by New Free Trade Zone

Washington Airports Task Force director of Aviation Policy Anita Kayser said on Tuesday that the US Department of Commerce has approved the Task Force’s application to reorganize the Washington Dulles Foreign Trade Zone #137 (FTZ) under the Commerce Department’s new Alternative Site Framework program has been approved.

The new FTZ makes Clarke County a more attractive business location for firms governed by trade zone regulations.

The Foreign Trade Zone Service Area established for the Washington Dulles International Airport zone comprises the counties of Arlington; Clarke; Fairfax; Fauquier; Frederick; Loudoun; Prince William; and their incorporated towns and cities, as well as the City of Alexandria.

“Support for the new FTZ framework had to be obtained from each locality as well as Washington Dulles Customs & Border Protection, and some private sector opposition was addressed” said Kayser.

The new rules streamline the process for firms that can take advantage of benefits of a Free Trade Zone, generally companies that assemble products containing foreign parts which are subsequently re-exported or firms who import foreign goods and store them until needed by others.

Under the old system, a company wanting Foreign Trade Zone services other than in a specifically designated Foreign Trade Zone site, had to go through an extensive application process, which typically cost $30,000 to 40,000 in time and effort, and took more than six months for the federal review and approval process.  The Alternative Site Framework essentially designates the localities within 60 statute miles of Washington Dulles as an FTZ Service Area.  Companies wanting FTZ services within this broad area can now apply for such status through a streamlined minor boundary modification process, which costs significantly less and should be approved within about 30 days.

“This is a great example of a federal regulatory change which significantly reduces the time and cost burden on the private sector” Kayser said. “With this approval, the Washington Dulles zone will be more accessible to users and a more effective tool for the region’s economic development agencies.”

Clarke County Supervisor John Staelin said that although he wasn’t aware of any companies in Clarke County currently importing or exporting products, the new measures make Clarke a more attractive place to locate such a business.

“Up until now it has been an expensive and time consuming job to qualify so only those companies whose primary business was in import/export were willing to go through the process” Staelin said. Now that it is an easier process a smaller company that does some import/export might want to apply. The key for Clarke is that some companies restrict their search for new sites to FTZs when they are expanding.  As we are in such a zone we can be get on the list of possible locations.”


  1. chuck swartz says:

    Oh great!! All of northern Virginia now under the control of Dulles — the airport spending all our taxes on wasted trains. And, maybe a public/private partnership with the Chinese might help Dulles get cargo again? An FTZ can’t help the helpless at the Washington Airports Task Force because they have no record of success. Correction: It’s a Foreign-Trade Zone, not Free Trade Zone.

  2. Debacle Watcher says:

    Being in a Free Trade Zone will not stop the Supervisor’s from continuing to enforce our “Free Of Trade” zone practices.