Ports And FTZs: Enter With Less Risk

Ports and FTZs are beneficial locations for all of your business needs, providing the transportation link that gets your goods where they need to go.

By the BF Staff
From the September/October 2016 Issue

The United States is the largest trading nation in the world for goods and services with more than 300 land, air and sea ports. Ports provide the link for getting goods to consumers and transporting U.S. made products overseas for export. It is here that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) enforces the import and export laws and regulations of the U.S. federal government and conducts immigration policy and programs. Officers accept entries of merchandise, clear passengers, collect duties and enforce various provisions. Ports also perform agriculture inspections to protect the country from potential carriers of animal and plant pests or diseases that could cause damage to America’s crops, livestock, pets and the environment.

An airport of entry (AOE), usually designated with the word “international”, provides customs and immigration services for incoming flights. These services allow the airport to serve as an initial port of entry for foreign visitors arriving in a country. AOE’s can range from large urban airports with heavy scheduled passenger service to small rural airports serving general aviation. Smaller airports of entry are often located near an existing port of entry, such as a bridge or seaport.

Seaports are gateways to domestic and international trade with more than 3,100 publicly and privately owned cargo and passenger handling facilities. Established by enactments of state government, public port agencies develop, manage and promote the flow of waterborne commerce. They act as catalysts for economic growth, and depending on the individual port facility, may accommodate anything from barges, ferries, recreational watercraft, passenger ships and ocean-going cargo. Ports also play a role in national security by supporting the mobilization, deployment and resupply of U.S. military forces.

The U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZs) Program was created in 1934 with the goal of helping businesses in the U.S. stay competitive with foreign manufacturers and suppliers. It has been a critical tool in helping U.S. ports remain a strong economic force in the global community. Economic developers can leverage the benefits of FTZs to attract jobs and investment, and to facilitate maintenance and expansion of their existing industrial base. Businesses in an FTZ may see a reduction in duties on labor, overhead and profit.

According to the National Association of Foreign Trade Zones (NAFTZ), in 2014, goods exported directly from U.S. FTZs jumped 24.8 percent from the previous year, to $99.2 billion. The increase represented a more than three-fold increase in FTZ exports in the five-year period dating back to 2009. In contrast, total U.S. exports during that same period grew by less than 50 percent. With regards to imports, “FTZs have also continued to grow in their importance for U.S. production and distribution operations that rely on global supply chains to remain competitive. Foreign-status inputs to FTZs totaled $288.3 billion in 2014, accounting for 12.1 percent of all foreign goods imported to the United States.”

In addition, more than 400,000 Americans were employed in FTZ activities in 2014, an increase of 7.7 percent from the previous year, a statistic that outpaced overall U.S. employment growth.

Located in or near a U.S. Customs Port of Entry, FTZs benefit companies in many ways. Regardless of proximity, foreign and domestic merchandise in these areas are considered to be outside of “customs territory”. If the final product emerging from a FTZ is exported, no U.S. customs duties or excise taxes are levied. If the product is imported into the U.S., customs duties and excise taxes are due only at the time of transfer from the FTZ to U.S. consumers.

Here are some ports and FTZ locations that may provide your business with the benefits needed for continued growth.


Nashville is continually lauded as one of the most compelling and fastest growing cities in the country. It’s not just Music City anymore. Home to healthcare industry giants, a blossoming technology sector and a nationally recognized reputation for fostering creativity, there’s no denying that Nashville is on the rise as an economic and cultural icon. And the city’s undeniable creative spirit continues to attract more and more musicians, artisans, craftsman, chefs, brewers and others who now call Nashville home.

And an extension to any great city: its airport. Nashville International Airport (BNA) is served by 12 airlines and offers 440 daily flights. It provides nonstop air service to more than 50 destinations and connects Middle Tennessee to the rest of the country, and beyond.

The Nashville Airports Experience

As the region’s conduit to travel, BNA often serves as the first and last impression of Nashville for travelers. With that in mind, BNA strives to bring the city’s unique sounds, tastes and distinctive southern hospitality to the airport and a warm and welcoming feel to Nashville’s visitors—something BNA calls the Nashville Airports Experience.

With local dining favorites like Tootsies Orchid Lounge and Noshville and craft breweries like Yazoo Brewery and Tennessee Brew Works, BNA offers up the soul of Nashville’s food and beverage culture. Recently introduced concepts, including Hissho Sushi, Vino Volo and Berry Field Bistro, now give travelers even more dining options at the airport.

The city’s vibrant and diverse creative culture is on display through the Arts at the Airport program with art galleries lining the concourses at BNA. And with its five live music stages throughout the terminal, there’s always a chance of catching the next big artist performing live for the thousands of travelers who pass through the terminal each day.

Thanks to the Nashville Airports Experience, travelers can grab a local beer or bite to eat and listen to live music as if they were strolling down Lower Broad, the city’s well-known downtown entertainment district. The world is taking note, too. Just recently, BNA was ranked the 9th Best Domestic Airport by Travel + Leisure as part of its World’s Best Awards 2016 and was included in Lonely Planet Travel News’ “World’s Top Eight Airports Where Getting Stuck for A Long Layover Can Be A Bonus.”

A Vision for the Future

Without question, it is an exciting time at BNA. Nashville’s global profile has attracted an unprecedented number of visitors to the city. In its last fiscal year, BNA served more than 12.2 million travelers, a nearly 10 percent increase over the previous year. By 2035, that number is expected to surpass 20 million according to growth projections. The airport is breaking record numbers each week, month and year, and that trend shows no signs of stopping. That’s why the airport recently unveiled BNA Vision, a comprehensive airport expansion and renovation plan designed to meet the region’s booming population growth and travel demands.

BNA Vision is a conceptual plan to develop and expand BNA and position it as a world-class airport to reflect a world-class city. Some of the key elements of BNA Vision include:

  • A state-of-the-art International Arrivals Building (IAB) to accommodate the increase in international travelers and new nonstop flights;
  • A spacious central entrance hall to welcome travelers with natural light and compelling airfield views, while comfortably accommodating airline ticketing, baggage check-in and expedited federal security screening;
  • Additional parking and ground transportation improvements, which already are underway to meet the growth of the airport and relieve congestion;
  • Multi-modal mass transportation options to connect the airport with downtown Nashville and other popular areas; and
  • Potential on-site hotel to provide passengers with convenient accommodations.

BNA Vision will be phased in over the next five to seven years. It’s an attractive and ambitious plan that will transform Nashville International Airport and impact the region’s growth and reputation.

Nashville’s popularity is at an all-time high and will continue its upward trajectory. BNA Vision will ensure the airport ascends alongside the city and ensure all travelers—whether for business or leisure—get the full Music City experience at Nashville International Airport.


In the newly released 2015 Foreign Trade Zones Board Annual Report to Congress, the Port of South Louisiana’s Foreign Trade Zone 124 is once again listed at the top with over $15 billion in the merchandise received, warehouse/ distribution category. FTZ 124 has 12 subzones and a combined 835-acre Alternative Site Framework (ASF) consisting of four different facilities. Heavy in crude, barite and the shipbuilding industry, all total FTZ 124 zones brought in approximately $82 billion worth of product into their respective facilities that year.

According to the report, “there were 186 FTZs active during the year, with a total of 324 active production operations. Over 420,000 persons were employed at some 2,900 firms that used FTZs during the year. The value of shipments into zones totaled nearly $660 billion, compared with $798 billion the previous year. About 63 percent of the shipments received at zones involved domestic status merchandise. The level of domestic status inputs used by FTZ operations indicates that FTZ activity tends to involve domestic operations that combine foreign inputs with significant domestic inputs.” (www.trade.gov/ftz)

“This is the second year in a row we are number one in that category”, says Paul Aucoin, Executive Director of the Port of South Louisiana. “Our zones are some of the most active in the country due in large part to the oil refining industry.” The state of Louisiana as a whole consistently is ranked in the top 25 lists of states in all FTZ activity.

Located on the lower Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, the Port of South Louisiana, Grantee FTZ 124, is a multi-modal port with deep water access, three trunk line railroads, easy access to Interstates and major highways and the Port’s Executive Regional Airport. Over 25,000 acres of land located on the Mississippi River are available for industries to locate their new facilities. Because of its location, Foreign Trade 124 currently services six parishes (counties) with two more in the application stage.

Created in the 1930s by the U.S government, a Foreign Trade Zone is an area within the United States, in or near a U.S. Customs port of entry, where foreign and domestic merchandise is considered to be outside the country. Certain types of merchandise can be imported into a zone without paying import duties. Customs duties and excise taxes are due when the merchandise is transferred from the Foreign Trade Zone for U.S. consumption. If the merchandise is re-exported, no duties or taxes are paid on those items. Merchandise in a zone may be assembled, exhibited, cleaned, manipulated, manufactured, mixed, processed, relabeled, repackaged, repaired, salvaged, sampled, stored, tested, displayed and destroyed.


Dyersburg, TN is located at a strategic point on the North American transportation grid, very near the center point of the United States population. As a result of this location, Dyersburg/Dyer County has lots of features and attributes to offer. Dyer County is located in Northwest Tennessee, about 75 miles north of Memphis, and is bordered on the west by the mighty Mississippi River.

Dyersburg/Dyer County is the regional hub of a 10-county area, including parts of Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas. Dyersburg/Dyer County has Dyersburg Municipal Airport, a general aviation airport, which can accommodate corporate and some commercial jets on its 5,700-foot long runway. Dyersburg is about a 90-minute drive from Memphis International Airport and the Super Hub of FedEx. The community includes Dyersburg State Community College, Tennessee College for Applied Technology and the Dyersburg Regional Medical Center (Tennova).

Manufacturing operations in Dyersburg/Dyer County include Caterpillar, Tyson Foods, Eaton Corp., ERMCO, Firestone, NSK Steering Systems, Nortek, Dot Foods, PolyOne, Hexpol, Heckethorn Manufacturing, Colonial Diversified Polymers, SR Global, Royal Building Products, Rough Country and more. Most recently Dyersburg has become the first North American location to become home to German mustard company, Develey Mustard and Condiments. Dyersburg/Dyer County is a regional hub for employment, education, medical services and agribusiness. Local attractions include Fyrne Lake, Bikini Bottoms Off Road Park, Full Throttle Distillery and the Dyer County Fair. Both the city and the county school systems are among the best public schools in the state.

The Port of Cates Landing, an intermodal river port on the Mississippi River, is only 25 miles from Dyersburg.

It is located north of Tiptonville, TN in Lake County in the extreme northwest corner of the state. This public port has loading and unloading capabilities for various raw and finished products onto and off barges.

The Port of Cate is an expandable intermodal port dock and transload facility serving barge, rail and truck.

It is accessible to barge traffic year round with slack water access to the barge berthing area and rail access to the Canadian National Railroad. The harbor channel provides space for passage of barge traffic at the port terminal without interference with barges that are moored at the berthing area. In addition, there is a 300 foot turn-a-round provided for tugboats at the southern end of the harbor.

The Northwest Tennessee Regional Port Authority is Foreign Trade Zone 283 pursuant to the Grant of Authority issued by the US Foreign-Trade Zones Board in October 2012. In addition to establishment of a foreign trade zone at the Port of Cates Landing, there are eight separate magnet sites throughout West Tennessee which are authorized for activation under the authority of Foreign Trade Zone 283. Foreign Trade Zone 283 is the only foreign trade zone authorized for operations in West Tennessee outside of Memphis and Shelby County.

Positioned at River Mile Marker 900 on a 9,000 linear foot (expandable to 14,000 linear feet) slack-water harbor—which is complete and ready to use—the Port of Cate is the only developable site on the Mississippi River above the 100 year flood plain between Memphis, TN and Cairo, IL.

Port of Cate offers close proximity to interstates I-55, I-155, I-40, I-24 and I-69. It also is the mid-point along the corridor connecting Canada and Mexico, near the world’s largest freight airport and rail center: Memphis, TN, and has a site located in the Tennessee Valley Authority service area.


Southwest Louisiana boasts six ports connected to the Gulf of Mexico through several major river channels which tie into rail services, interstate highway access and aviation terminals. All of those assets—both natural and man-made—make Southwest Louisiana a logical and strategic location for the import and export of goods anywhere in the world.

ports and FTZ
City Docks at Port of Lake Charles Foreign Trade Zone 87 (Photo: www.portlc.com)

All of the ports in Southwest Louisiana are part of a regional network that includes: East Cameron Port, West Cameron Port, Mermentau River Harbor and Terminal District, Port of Lake Charles and West Calcasieu Port.

Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District. Located 34 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico on the Calcasieu River Ship Channel (40 feet deep x 400 feet wide), the Port of Lake Charles is the nation’s 11th busiest port. Annually, it accommodates over 55 million tons of cargo. This facility features the City Docks and Bulk Terminal 1.

The docks (City Docks and Contraband Bayou Terminal) measure 200 acres and provide a cargo facility capable of handling bulk and break-bulk cargo like bagged and bulk agricultural products, aluminum and steel, forest products, proppant and project cargo.

City Dock amenities include:

  • 13 transit sheds and warehouses covering 1.6 million square feet
  • 13 berths totaling 7,577 linear feet
  • A dock height 14 feet MLW
  • Project depths of 36 feet for berths one through 10
  • Depths of 40 feet for berths 15 and 15B
  • Open berth for project-cargo operations with an apron lay-down area of 105,000 square feet
  • 20-acre reinforced concrete lay-down yard
  • Nine miles of rail, able to accommodate up to 250 railcars with rail served by Union Pacific, Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Kansas City Southern.

Contraband Bayou Terminal has automated services (and 150,000 square feet of terminal warehouse) which include:

  • a four lie automated bagging facility joined to the terminal,
  • two automated palletizers,
  • six automated depalletizers and
  • two spiralveyors with a ship loading capacity of 120 tons per hour each.

Bulk Terminal 1 is on 71 acres at a site 30 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico. This facility handles dry bulk products like petroleum coke, calcined coke, barite, rutile and other commodities. Additional amenities at the site include:

  • 2,200 foot long wharf;
  • 40-foot project depth;
  • accommodation for two vessels for simultaneous loading;
  • two traveling ship loaders (one at 2,000 tph and the other at 3,2000 tph);
  • one traveling clam-bucket unloader with an unloading rate of 450 short tons of barite per hour;
  • transfer capability from vessel to vessel, vessel to rail, vessel to truck or to open storage;
  • 100-ton railcar rollover with an unloading rate of 1,200 tons per hour;
  • hydraulic truck dump;
  • rail unloading pit and radial stacker; and
  • adjacent truck scale.

For more information visit www.portlc.com.

East and West Cameron Ports. Even though they are located in two different geographic locations in Cameron Parish, combined, the ports service commercial fisheries, shall draft manufacturing and oilfield services.

East Cameron Port has access to the Gulf of Mexico through the Mermentau River system. West Cameron Port is located on the Gulf of Mexico and provides deep water access, shallow draft capabilities and heavy infrastructure provisions.

These ports are home to liquefied natural gas facilities. Primary cargos at the ports include baroid, coal and sweet and sour crude. Other key factors at the ports are availability of properties and large infrastructure along the Mermentau River, in addition to deep water access along the Calcasieu Ship Channel and the Calcasieu Pass and East Fork corridors, which remain the mainstay in marine and maritime operations. For more information visit sb.port@camtel.net.

Mermentau River Harbor and Terminal District. Located on the Mermentau River, the port is important to shipyards and oil refineries that dot the shoreline. The Mermentau River flows south into Lake Arthur, which connects to the Intracoastal Canal. Amenities offered at the port are:

  • a shallow-draft port with a main channel depth of nine feet;
  • primary cargoes such as inbound aggregates, fertilizer, rough rice and rice hull compost, and outbound rice and soybeans;
  • a location one mile north of U.S. highway 90; and
  • cargo terminals and facilities for several companies.

For more information contact jcraton@cox-internet.com.

Vinton Harbor Terminal District. One of the biggest improvements to this port was the construction of a $10 million pre-stressed concrete bridge girder and pile facility. This port is located on a navigable waterway about seven miles north of the Intracoastal Canal Waterway. The mouth of the channel is about eight miles east of the Sabine River and 17 miles west of the Calcasieu River. Located four miles south of Interstate 10, the Port of Vinton is eight miles east of the Texas-Louisiana border and 107 miles east of Houston.

The port features an 806-acre tract of land, a small dock and a 20,500-square-foot commercial building.

West Calcasieu Port. This 190-acre port is located in Sulphur, LA and serviced by the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. Positioned halfway between Houston and New Orleans, the port’s tenants facilitate shallow-water maritime transportation from Texas to Florida without exposure to the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

West Calcasieu Port, located two miles from the Calcasieu River Ship Channel, also has a barge-fleeting port with an expanded barge basin, dry-barge cleaning services and marine construction. Its location is close to Interstate 10 and 150 miles east of the Port of Houston, providing options for businesses to lease and leases of port property for commercial and barge fleeting purposes.

The West Calcasieu Port offers utilities, a new barge-loading ramp for drive on and off services, diesel engine repair services, barge loading and unloading services and an 80,000-pound load limit road. For more information visit www.westcalport.com.


The 1,403 acres that compose the West Complex (formerly Rough and Ready Island) was transferred from the U.S. Navy to the port in 2001 increasing the size of the port to more than 2,000 acres. Since the transfer of the land, the port has invested more than $80 million in infrastructure upgrades (docks, roads, bridges, and utilities) to expand its industrial capabilities and services, and incent industrial oriented companies to locate their businesses at the port. This upgrade and expansion translates into millions of dollars of savings for new development projects.

ports and FTZ
The Port of Stockton encompasses more than 2,000 acres and is serviced by the Stockton Deepwater Ship Channel with a project depth of 35 feet MLW. (Photo: Port of Stockton)

Located 75 nautical miles from the Golden Gate Bridge, the Port of Stockton is serviced by the Stockton Deepwater Ship Channel with a project depth of 35 feet MLLW. With 15 berths covering more than 11,000 lineal feet and more than four miles of on-dock rail, the Port of Stockton is well suited to handle dry bulk, liquid bulk and break-bulk cargoes.

The port is uniquely zoned. The PT zoning designation only exists for the port, whereby most industrial uses are by-right (no discretionary action required by the city).

Originally completed in 2004, the port spent more than two million dollars on a Programmatic EIR to address build out of the West Complex. There are large brown field and green field parcels available for development. In most cases, the EIR baseline information can be augmented to address new projects at a minimal cost and reduced time frame. The port’s Board of Port Commissioners is the lead agency for CEQA processing and approval.

In 2009, the port invested more than five million dollars on the installation of a new 60kV substation. The new substation has a 25MW capacity expandable to 50MW. The port is the Municipal Electric Utility on the West Complex.

There is $2 million-plus annual budget for ongoing security at the port. The majority of the West Complex is limited access only, with 24-hour armed security, perimeter fencing and CCTV. The port is grantee of FTZ #231 consisting of more than 4,000 designated acres for FTZ uses. The FTZ can reduce or eliminate the duty on many imported and exported goods and materials. The port is served by both Class 1 railroads (BNSF and UP) with local traffic managed by the Central California Traction Company. The port has been improving and adding rail since 2001 and has more than 90 miles of operating track.

Additional advantages include:

  • Easy access to State Route 4, I-5, and the Crosstown Freeway
  • Multiple sources of water (Cal Water, riparian, and groundwater)
  • State and Local political support for industrial development
  • Levees Certified for 100-year floodwaters
  • Adequate fill material available at no cost for tenant projects (transport costs only)

A 700 Classification infrastructure project will rehabilitate East Complex Rail Yard, which consisted of nine tracks, and bring the complex back to full capacity. This project is adding 4,000 foot long tracks next to the existing 4,000 foot tracks.

The BNSF Mainline Underpass project, to be completed in January, will build a new underpass structure to accommodate a future four-lane roadway and provide PUC vertical clearance; the project also will construct an additional mainline for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF)/Amtrak share track.

The Navy Drive widening project is increasing the lanes on the existing road from two to potentially five lanes. Also scheduled for 2016 is the Navy Drive bridge replacement, located in the alignment of Navy Drive at the crossing of the San Joaquin River, connecting the Port of Stockton East and West Complexes. The Navy Drive Bridge will become the primary access bridge (a four-lane span) to the Port of Stockton West Complex pending construction of the SR 4 Crosstown Freeway Project.