Companies now have a guy who knows a guy, so to speak, when it comes to importing and exporting goods to and from Vancouver Island and doing business with foreign customers.
The Vancouver Island Economic Alliance announced, at an event at Nanaimo Airport on Monday, that the Island has been granted official status as a foreign trade zone by the federal government.
There are 11 foreign trade zones in Canada, but this is the first time the government has given FTZ status to an entire economic region, such as the Island. The model until now has been to only give the status to municipalities.
“This is the first time the government has designated a region the size of Vancouver Island, with 13 municipalities … and the FTZ office [Vancouver Economic Alliance] is an NGO. Usually it’s government,” said Bill Collins, chairman of Victoria-based train electronics systems manufacturer Quester Tangent.
Government recognition of a foreign trade zone essentially acknowledges that region has a network of services, such as customs-bonded warehousing, that can streamline processes for companies that want to import or export products to and from the region and conduct trade with foreign markets.
“The most significant part of this is businesses on Vancouver Island having access to government programs that defer taxes and duty,” said George Hansen, VIEA president. “The cash flow implications for that, particularly for anyone who’s working in volumes, is enormous.”
The foreign trade zone designation is a product of the work started in 2006 when the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance was formed to organize Vancouver Island municipalities into an economic region.