If you import or export, you may be familiar with the terms foreign trade zone and free trade zone, both of which are frequently abbreviated as FTZ. These terms are often used interchangeably to refer to a class of government-run duty-free zones, but they actually mean slightly different things.
Free trade zone is a more general, universal term. Customs authorities representing governments across the globe have established free trade zones. Free trade zones are areas in which commodities can be manufactured, modified or stored under specific customs regulations and generally not subject to customs duties.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), foreign trade zones are the United States’ version of free trade zones. FTZs are designated areas within the United States that are legally located outside of the customs territory of the United States, meaning that goods that reside within an established FTZ haven’t yet cleared customs.