If you haven’t heard of the federal agency APHIS—the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service—you are not alone. APHIS is not exactly a household term, but it is an important “other government agency” to members of the FTZ community.
Tuesday of this week (Feb. 14), I visited the APHIS offices in College Park, Maryland, along with NAFTZ Chairman Lewis Leibowitz, and NAFTZ member Virginia Thompson. Virginia is an executive in the Northbrook, Ill., offices of Euromarket Designs Inc., the parent company of the home furnishing retailer Crate & Barrel. The three of us met with 25 staff members at APHIS for more than an hour to explain the importance of the FTZ program to national economic policy and how the program can enhance import compliance.
Lewis and I explained the origins of the FTZ program, how it works, and the impressive extent of FTZ activity in the U.S. economy. Virginia focused on how her company and other FTZ users work with APHIS, Customs and Border Protection, and other agencies to ensure that all admissions to FTZs fully comply with U.S. health and safety regulations. Virginia reminded the APHIS staff that admissions to an FTZ must follow the same procedures and level of visibility as any non-FTZ shipment. (You can view our PowerPoint presentation here.) The meeting prompted a number of thoughtful questions.
A major mission of the NAFTZ is to educate policy makers and other government officials on the many benefits of the program. The meeting with APHIS staff this week is part of our ongoing effort to reach out to the more than 40 U.S. agencies involved in one way or another with import and export compliance.