The chief of Georgia Foreign-Trade Zones will now have a chance to impact trade-zone policy at the national level.

Julie Brown, president and CEO of the private, nonprofit group overseeing the U.S. government program in metro Atlanta, has been elected to serve on the National Association of Foreign-Trade Zones board of directors.

A foreign-trade zone is an area approved by U.S. Customs and Border Protection where companies can import goods or components with lower duties and quicker processing times through ports of entry.

Georgia Foreign-Trade Zones administers Foreign-Trade Zone #26 in Atlanta, which starts at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport but also includes many major industrial sites around the metro area.

Companies can also apply to have their own factories designated as “subzones” or “usage-driven sites” to enjoy the same benefits. Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corp. in Newnan and Ricoh Electronics in Lawrenceville are examples.

Recent entrants include children’s clothing manufacturer Carter’s and logistics firm DHL Global Forwarding. Overall, the 45 firms in Georgia’s three zones (Atlanta, Savannah and Brunswick) employ nearly 4,400 people and received $4.9 billion in merchandise while exporting $640 million in goods in 2011, according to a news release.

“The FTZ program helps Georgia companies remain competitive in a global economy. Companies benefitting from the program are able to streamline costs, hire more workers and thus grow their business,” Ms. Brown said in the release. 

Her appointment comes after the Georgia group hosted the national association’s 26th annual spring seminar in Atlanta in May.

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As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...