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Global Engagement Office

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The North Dakota Global Engagement Office offers customized services to help international companies looking to locate, expand or invest/acquire businesses in North Dakota to grow and diversify the ND economy. The office is an advocate and liaison between foreign investors and federal, state, and local governments in North Dakota. Connecting foreign businesses with ND companies/opportunities to create mutually beneficial partnerships while eliminating barriers so they can invest, expand, and operate their business in ND.

Shawn Kessel

Commerce is committed to connecting foreign businesses with ND companies. Contact Shawn Kessel, COO/Deputy Commissioner at (701) 328-5331 to learn more.

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Financial incentives - Host countries offer businesses a combination of tax incentives and loans to invest. Home-country governments may also offer a combination of insurance, loans, and tax breaks in an effort to promote their companies’ overseas investments. The opening case on China in Africa illustrated these types of incentives.

Infrastructure  -Host governments improve or enhance local infrastructure—in energy, transportation, and communications—to encourage specific industries to invest. This also serves to improve the local conditions for domestic firms.

Administrative processes and regulatory environment - Host-country governments streamline the process of establishing offices or production in their countries. By reducing bureaucracy and regulatory environments, these countries appear more attractive to foreign firms.

Invest in education - Countries seek to improve their workforce through education and job training. An educated and skilled workforce is an important investment criterion for many global businesses.

Political, economic, and legal stability - Host-country governments seek to reassure businesses that the local operating conditions are stable, transparent (i.e., policies are clearly stated and in the public domain), and unlikely to change.


Foreign Trade Zones

Foreign-trade zones are designated sites licensed by the Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZ) Board (Commerce Secretary is Chairperson) at which special customs procedures may be used. These procedures allow domestic activity involving foreign items to take place prior to formal customs entry. Duty-free treatment is accorded items that are re-exported, and duty payment is deferred on items sold in the U.S. market, thus offsetting customs advantages available to overseas producers who compete with producers located in the United States. Subzones/usage-driven sites are approved for a specific company/use. A site which has been granted zone status may not be used for zone activity until the site or a section th

local U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials, and the zone activity remains under the supervision of CBP. FTZ sites and facilities remain within the jurisdiction of local, state, or federal governments or agencies.


  • Duty Exemption. No duties on or quota charges on re-exports.
  • Duty Deferral. Customs duties and federal excise tax deferred on imports.
  • Logistical Benefits. Companies using FTZ procedures may have access to streamlined customs procedures (such as “weekly entry” or “direct delivery”).
  • Other Benefits. Foreign goods and domestic goods held for export are exempt from state/local inventory taxes. FTZ status may also make a site eligible for state/local benefits which are unrelated to the FTZ Act.
  • Introduction video to Foreign Trade Zones -

ND Locations

  • Grand Forks – FTZ #103
    • Approved May 8, 1984, and Reissued July 5, 1995
    • Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority
  • Fargo – FTZ #267
    • Municipal Airport Authority P.O. Box 2845 Fargo, ND 58108
    • Shawn A. Dobberstein (701) 241-1501 Fax (701) 241-1538
    • Fargo Moorhead Economic Development -