Space company seeks foreign trade zone in Gilbert

GILBERT, AZ - A Virginia-based company that makes satellites and other space equipment is asking the federal government to designate its Phoenix-area plant a foreign trade zone after the town of Gilbert signed off on its plans.

Space-systems manufacturer Orbital Sciences Corp. says the technical designation would help the company keep up with overseas competitors.

The company operates a Gilbert manufacturing facility that it touts as one of the largest spacecraft assembly, integration and test facilities in the nation.

The Arizona Republic reports that foreign-trade zones allow industrial plants to operate outside standard U.S. customs rules and helps companies avoid duties on imported goods.

If it wins approval, Orbital Sciences would join Chandler's Intel Corp. and Glendale's Conair Corp. as Phoenix-area plants benefiting from the special designation.

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