MAS US Holdings, a subsidiary of Sri Lankan apparel and fabric manufacturing giant MAS Capital, has been approved for a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) sub-zone with sites at its Siler City and Asheboro locations in North Carolina.

Once activated, the new status means MAS can bring imported components or products into its facilities and reduce, eliminate and/or defer tariff payments until the imports leave the facility.

MAS US Holdings' sub-zone is a distribution centre, meaning imported products will be held for distribution to customers.

Currently, the FTZ serves a 15-county region that spans the Triangle J Council of Governments (TJCOG) counties. Companies within this geographic area are eligible to apply for FTZ designation. Companies that conduct international trade and import products or components may reduce costs, improve supply chain efficiency and increase their competitive advantage by operating within the FTZ.

MAS US Holdings' application is indicative of a growing interest in the benefits and competitive advantage that FTZs can provide to local companies that rely on importing products.

"As change-drivers in the industry, MAS reached a juncture in our evolutionary journey where the collaborative relationships with our customers demanded more engagement and responsiveness aside from the rapid delivery of innovative products and services," says Ramesh Fernando, CEO of MAS US Holdings.

The company last year acquired the business operations of Asheboro-based manufacturer Acme McCrary Corporation, which produces legwear and activewear for large US retailers, enabling it to open its first production and development centre in the US to improve speed to market and flexibility for its western hemisphere customers.

"Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) capability enhances our value proposition to offer 'Design to Delivery' solutions onshore. Additionally, this move offers MAS the opportunity to take our message of empowerment to a global stage, creating evolving, sustainable job opportunities and career paths for communities."

Regionally, economic developers and partners are realising the value a multi-faceted strategy can provide to recruit and strengthen businesses, according to Tom White, chair of the FTZ board.

"MAS US Holdings leadership visited the NC State University College of Textiles back in November 2016. During the course of lab tours and presentations by University faculty and staff, the topic of exports/imports and foreign trade zones surfaced. Through the partnership of the FTZ and educational institutions, MAS US Holdings saw it prudent to invest in NC's advanced manufacturing facilities, producing apparel as a reactivation of one of our state's amazing legacy commodity production industries."