Make the whole state a foreign-trade zone?

"Seaport,'' by Claude Lorrain.

"Seaport,'' by Claude Lorrain.

Adapted from Robert Whitcomb's "Digital Diary,'' in

With its big and mostly sheltered bay on the Northeast Corridor and proximity to major shipping lanes, Rhode Island is very well-situated  for the state to expand its foreign-trade zone to the entire state. As I remember from my business editor days here and in Europe, Free Trade Zones, if promoted well, can be big prosperity builders in the jurisdictions that have them. Rhode Island’s compactness, ports on Narragansett Bay and increasingly international T.F. Green Airport should make it an easier place than most to go after revenues from international trade.

In the Jan. 26-Feb. 1  Providence Business News, Mary MacDonald  well summarized the attractions of foreign-trade zones in her article headlined “R.I. bids to become a statewide foreign trade zone. Who will benefit?’’

“{A}approved companies that make use of a zone do not have to go through Customs entry or pay import duties on certain merchandise. Duties and excise taxes are only paid when products move into the U.S. market for sale. If the items are then moved on to another country, the company pays no duties or taxes on those items.

‘’Companies will often move product through a FTZ if they want to hold it before sale, because this allows them to delay the payment of their tariff, and frees that money for other purposes….there is no time limit for how long something can be stored in the trade zone.’’

Pretty alluring.