There are two more related notes:
1. if there is any station currently running, NTP will pause until all stations have stopped. This is for the simple reason that time change while stations are running can mess up the run time, so the NTP sync will wait until no program is currently running.
2. if you want to manually set time zone, then leave the location string empty, as Samer said. if the location is valid, and a valid time zone based on your location is returned, your manually set time zone will be overwritten. Therefore if you want to keep the manually set time zone, just leave the location string empty.
I still can’t get the source of the issue you are seeing, because I can’t reproduce the issue. My suggestion is to perform a system reset and check the time before you change any setting or import configuration. The default location is Boston, MA, so upon system reset, it should get the current time of Boston, MA. If it does, that means NTP sync is working correctly.