The Chancellor is preparing to introduce freeports in the UK in a move that could reduce taxes and red tape for UK traders.
Freeports are zones which are considered outside a country for customs purposes, allowing goods and components to be imported and exported from the zone tariff-free.
The Chancellor’s announcement follows a public consultation by the Treasury into freeports, which started in February this year and in which the IOE&IT was a prominent voice on behalf of its members.
The Telegraph reports that 10 freeports could be introduced within a year of the end of the current transition period with the EU, during which the UK continues to trade under EU rules.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson views freeports as a key part of his ‘levelling-up agenda’ to regenerate ‘left-behind’ areas of the country, the FT reports.
Freeports are often seen as national hubs for international trade and investment, hotbeds of innovation and vehicles for job creation and regeneration.
However, critics warn that they tend to relocate jobs and investment rather than generate new business.
Bob Sanguinetti, head of the UK Chamber of Shipping, told the FT that the test of their success will be whether they create new economic activity for the UK rather than simply moving it from part of the country to another.
The Treasury’s consultation concludes today (Monday 13 July) and the Chancellor is expected to use his autumn budget to invite applications from ports across the country.
Several seaports and airports are already considering applying, including Liverpool, Humber, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.
PD Ports operator for Tees Port in Teeside, Jerry Hopkinson, told Loadstar a local freeport would bring “huge investment” and a “jobs boost” to his region.