Extensive discussions about supply chains within the textile industry are expected to be on the table during Round 5 of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations began Nov. 15 in Mexico City. That is two days ahead of the planned schedule and is designed to give negotiators more time to discuss the myriad of issues--particularly textiles--covered under the 23-year-old trade pact, according to four sources who spoke to Reuters.

The fifth round will run Nov. 15-21 rather than Nov. 17-21 as originally planned. The chief negotiators in the United States, Mexico and Canada will join talks on Nov. 17 as previously scheduled. Topics likely be discussed in the earlier session include textiles, services, labor and intellectual property, according to a trade official.

During a recent webcast hosted by Integration Point, Michael D’Oust, President and CEO of PointTrade Services, Inc., discussed savings within supply chains using a multitude of Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZ).

Now, he answers your most pressing questions from the webcast:

Q: How can I measure my potential savings to decide if further investigation is needed?

We generally recommend starting with the best available source of information, which is typically a company’s Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) import data. This information will provide the basis for the FTZ financial feasibility analysis to determine what the initial (first year) and ongoing estimated savings will be by operating under zone procedures. Once this data is collected, a financial feasibility analysis can be performed. Our firm (PTSI), as well as many other consultants, conduct financial feasibility studies at no cost to determine the sensibility of a project. 

If you do not have access to your ACE account, you may also request your broker provide the import data for the past 12 months as the basis. Note that it is important to consider that many companies that have multiple business divisions may have multiple Importer of Record (IOR) numbers, so be careful to consider this when performing the analysis. There can also be many nuances to performing a financial feasibility study to identify which imported shipments should be included or possibly excluded from the study.

Melissa Irmen, Integration Point Senior Vice President-Thought Leadership, was elected to the Executive Council of the National Association of Foreign-Trade  Zones (NAFTZ) last month. The association is the voice of the United States Foreign-Trade Zone program and is instrumental in the education and advocacy of issues pertaining to zones.

Irmen has served on the NAFTZ Board of Directors for five years and has been a member of the association for 15 years. Her dedication to the association and her expertise in FTZs and automation made her a natural choice for the Executive Council.