By Dorie Cox
Yacht crew and brokers from nine brokerage houses were on the job for the first charter broker show at Lauderdale Marine Center in Fort Lauderdale last night.
More than 100 yacht industry professionals toured the 15 boats on display including M/Y Utopia III, a 150-foot Trinity, M/Y Balaju, a 147-foot Intermarine, and M/Y Chanson, a 97-foot Vicem, as well as new builds from Ferretti and Lagoon.
Two of the yachts were docked in the marina’s U.S. Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ). The designation has proven to be a financial benefit for M/Y Lumiere, a 164-foot Benetti, and M/Y Horizons II, a 145-foot NQEA, as well as builders, dealers, brokers and the refit industry by alleviating duty and taxes on imported parts and boats.
Capt. Rick Tasis stood by M/Y Horizons II to answer questions during the event. He has seen the benefits of the FTZ, especially when it comes to showings and closings for yachts for sale.
“This is excellent, long overdue,” Capt. Tasis said. “I have done a lot of offshore closings and I like the lower taxes. This gives us freedom to travel.”
Compliance in an FTZ requires adherence to certain restrictions, including fees, advance notification of travel, and maintenance of records, but those are nothing new to yachts.
“It is pretty lenient as long as we don’t fudge with it,” Capt. Tasis said. “Or they will take it away. Comparatively, the money is not too bad.”
It will be almost two years that sections of LMC have been active as FTZs. Frank Grzeszczak Sr., senior sales consultant with IYC, said it is a good fit for M/Y Lumiere. Seated on the aft deck, he welcomed visitors onboard during the event and touted the benefits.
“It was a smart thing … it’s working,” Grzeszczak said. “This was a positive move for the government and for brokerages. It’s just a matter or record-keeping.”
Several benefits bring boats to these zones including the opportunity for all boats in the zone, including foreign-flagged vessels, to be able to be shown to U.S. buyers for sale and be able to conduct sea trials. Yachts can also enter and leave zones to accommodate owner trips or charters.
Grzeszczak has had to explain how it works to clients, but said, “for a yacht that is for sale, you want to do it the right way and this is the only way.”
Leonce Richard, a broker with Worth Avenue Yachts, has worked within FTZs to show M/Y Chanson in Newport, Rhode Island, and West Palm Beach, Florida, yacht shows.
“If this works with real buyers, I don’t think there is a downside,” Richard said. “All the work in Washington is paying off. We know the rules, we cover our bases, and we make sure we do it legally while we travel in and out of the country.”
The operator of the FTZ for the area is the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, which started with 16 marine industry subzones as the first recreational marine foreign trade zone in the United States. Other South Florida FTZ facilities include Bahia Mar Yachting Center and National Marine Suppliers.
Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton. Comment at email@example.com.