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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [Docket 31-96] Foreign-Trade Zone 98--Birmingham, AL; Application for Subzone Status, ZF Industries, Inc. (Automotive Axle Assemblies), Tuscaloosa, Alabama An application has been submitted to the Foreign-Trade Zones Board (the Board) by the City of Birmingham, Alabama, grantee of FTZ 98, requesting special-purpose subzone status for the automotive axle assembly manufacturing plant of ZF Industries, Inc. (ZF) (subsidiary of ZF Friedrichshafen AG, Germany), located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The application was submitted pursuant to the provisions of the Foreign- Trade Zones Act, as amended (19 U.S.C. 81a-81u), and the regulations of the Board (15 CFR Part 400). It was formally filed on April 16, 1996.
The new ZF plant (34 acres, 83,000 sq.ft.), currently under construction, is located at 1200 Commerce Drive within the Tuscaloosa County Airport Industrial Park, about 4 miles west of the City of Tuscaloosa. The facility (200 employees) will be used to produce front and rear axle assemblies for passenger vehicles manufactured at the Mercedes-Benz motor vehicle assembly plant in Tuscaloosa County, as well as for export. The application indicates that, at the outset, foreign-sourced parts and materials will comprise some 25 percent of the finished axle assemblies' material value, including: pinion sets, steering gears, tie rods, parking brake cables, and fasteners (duty rate range: 2.9-12.5%). Foreign (non-North American) parts and materials purchases are projected to decline to about 14 percent of the total in the medium term.
Zone procedures would exempt ZF from Customs duty payments on the foreign items used in production for export. On domestic shipments transferred in-bond to the Mercedes-Benz plant (Subzone 98A, Board Order 803, 61 FR 8237, 3-4-96), no duties would be paid on foreign- origin components of the axle assemblies until Mercedes enters the finished motor vehicles for domestic consumption, at which time, Mercedes could choose to apply the finished auto duty rate (2.5%). Mercedes would pay no duties on its exports. For axle assemblies withdrawn for Customs entry, the company would be able to choose the axle duty rate (2.9%) for the foreign-origin fasteners noted above. The application indicates that the savings from zone procedures would help improve the plant's international competitiveness.
In accordance with the Board's regulations, a member of the FTZ Staff has been designated examiner to investigate the application and report to the Board.
Public comment on the application is invited from interested parties. Submissions (original and three copies) shall be addressed to the Board's Executive Secretary at the address below. The closing period for their receipt is June 24, 1996. Rebuttal comments in response to material submitted during the foregoing period may be submitted during the subsequent 15-day period (to July 9, 1996).
A copy of the application and the accompanying exhibits will be available for public inspection at each of the following locations:
U.S. Department of Commerce District Office, Medical Forum Building, 7th Floor, 950 22nd Street North, Birmingham, AL 35203. Office of the Executive Secretary, Foreign-Trade Zones Board, U.S. Department of Commerce, Room 3716, 14th Street & Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20230. Dated: April 17, 1996. John J. Da Ponte, Jr., Executive Secretary. [FR Doc. 96-10110 Filed 4-25-96; 8:45 am]