April 26, 2011

FTZ Update - Regulatory Process (incl. free webinar)


As detailed previously, May 26, 2011 will mark the close of the public comment period on the proposed FTZ Board regulations that were published on December 30, 2010. Over the last several months, the FTZ Board staff held two webinars plus a series of events across the country to explain and answer questions about the proposed regulations. Triggered by a question from a member of the FTZ community, the FTZ Board staff has been evaluating possible procedural options for bringing benefits of key regulatory revisions to program users (especially exporters) as soon as possible.

When the FTZ Board's regulations were last revised substantively in 1990-1991, the process involved publication of proposed regulations, a public comment period, analysis of the comments submitted, and then publication of revised proposed regulations (taking the comments into account), another comment period, analysis of the additional comments submitted, and finally publication of final regulations. That process took nearly two years to complete, and none of the provisions of the revised regulations took effect until the end of that process.

Because of the interest in bringing the benefits of key revisions to program users (especially exporters) as soon as possible, we are now evaluating procedural alternatives to certain elements of the process followed in 1990-1991. Specifically, we are examining options for the steps that would follow the receipt and analysis of public comments submitted during the current comment period. Possible next steps - that could be targeted for the second half of 2011 - could include 1) the publication of an interim final rule or 2) publication of a final rule accompanied by publication of a new proposed rule presenting certain revised provisions for public comment. Provisions of an interim final rule (which would also invite further public comment) or a final rule would be effective upon publication.

For parties interested in learning more about possible next steps in the regulatory process, the FTZ Board staff will be offering a free webinar on Wednesday, May 11, at 2:00 p.m. EDT. To register for the webinar, RSVP to ftz@trade.gov no later than two days prior to the event. Each RSVP should include the individual's name and e-mail address. Prior to the webinar, participants will receive an e-mail with the call-in number and passcode to be used to access the webinar.

Andrew McGilvray
Executive Secretary and Staff Director
U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones Board
(202) 482-2862