Foreign Trade Zones

Wanna go offshore? Rozalinda Borcila has begun some great investigative work on the Foreign Trade Zones (FTZs) that extend outward from the Port of Chicago into the entire six-county Chicagoland area. These zones are basically for tax abatement and laxer environmental regulation. They include sugar and car factories, oil refineries, the huge BSNF train yard out near Joliet and the even huger warehouse districts right next to it. Typically the FTZs are surrounded by a barbed wire fence with a US customs sign warning you that you are essentially crossing a border (which means you can’t cross it, because you don’t have permission). But through computer communications technology, foreign trade zones become far more slippery: bonded trucks remain “foreign” as they ferry tax-free goods from one zone to the next. Maybe you are already foreign without knowing it? Check out Rozalinda’s notes and text here:

Special Economic Zones in the US

Riding the Zone, final draft for MRCC/Compass Group publication on the radical Midwest (out summer 2012 we hope)

Plus a series of links:

Dara Orenstein, Offshore Onshore, this is the web archive of Orenstein’s research into the cultural history of the FTZ (under construction) – for primary documents related to the first FTZ, WPA posters and so on.

Brian Holmes, Do Containers Dream of Electric People?

Warehouse Workers for Justice, Bad Jobs in Goods Movement

Boston Consulting Group, Made in America, Again




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