Two Welsh freeports announced today – one in Anglesey and one in Port Talbot and Milford Haven

Thu 23 Mar 2023
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

Wales flag billowing in sunlight

The government has announced the first two freeports in Wales, including Anglesey Freeport in the north of the country and Celtic Freeport covering Port Talbot and Milford Haven in the south.

The government said the freeports will each be backed with £26m in funding and are expected to attract £5bn in investments, generating 20,000 jobs by the end of the decade.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak said the freeports will help both regions “go from strength to strength” while Wales’ first minister Mark Drakeford saying they will help the country create a “stronger, fairer and greener future”.

“The joint working between governments on the freeport programme should serve as a blueprint for future intergovernmental work,” said Drakeford.

Customs benefits

In a statement from the successful consortium behind the Anglesey bid – including Stena Line, Isle of Anglesey Council and the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) – the freeport’s customs and tax benefits were highlighted as good news for traders.

“In future, goods entering Anglesey Freeport will not be subject to the UK’s usual tax and customs regime, supporting long-term business investment, and boosting the prosperity of Anglesey and North Wales,” the consortium said.

Research conducted by the consortium found that the freeport would create 13,000 high-skilled, high wage jobs for local people over a 15 year period, increase UK GDP by £1bn by 2030 and increase manufacturing output across North Wales.

Landbridge

The freeport will also “revitalise the GB landbridge” – the journey of goods from Ireland to the EU via Great Britain, and the other way – which has dropped by 20% since Brexit.

The Anglesey site will also host a ‘centre for excellence for international trade’ which will deliver training and education to support communities across the local area and North Wales.

The site will cover the whole Isle of Anglesey, extending from Holyhead port, and will have four zones designated as tax or customs sites.

Skills boost

Marco Forgione, the director general of IOE&IT, congratulated his consortium partners and said IOE&IT had been delighted to support the bid over the last few months. He said:

“We’re confident that the centre for excellence will help generate new highly skilled employment opportunities for local talent, supporting the prosperity of communities across Anglesey and North Wales.

“This freeport is an important step in helping to deliver a more resilient, prosperous and sustainable vision for Wales.”

‘Work now begins’

Ian Hampton, executive director at Stena Line, also said he was “thrilled” by the decision and also congratulated Celtic Freeport on its successful bid. He said the freeport “presents an enormous economic opportunity”.

“Work now begins to ensure that we are capitalising on the unique tax and customs arrangements gained through freeport status, to transform Anglesey into a centre for global trading excellence.

“To realise its potential as a world-leading economic powerhouse by facilitating trade across Wales, the rest of the UK, and internationally – bolstered by the easing of trade between the island of Ireland and the rest of the EU, via a revitalised GB land-bridge.”

Transformational

Dylan J. Williams, the chief executive at Isle of Anglesey County Council, said it was a “historic moment for Ynys Môn” and securing freeport status could deliver “transformational change to communities to communities here and across North Wales.”

“It will stimulate significant long-term job creation for local people as well as wider socio-economic benefits and supply chain developments.

“This will help keep our young people in their local communities, preserving our Island’s unique character, culture and the Welsh language.”

Celtic Freeport

Celtic Freeport will also generate over “16,000 new, green jobs and up to £5.5bn of new investment,” according to Neath Port Talbot Council.

The consortium behind this freeport includes Associated British Ports, Neath Port Talbot Council, Pembrokeshire County Council and the Port of Milford Haven.

The site’s tax and customs sites will span almost 250 hectares in Pembrokeshire and Neath Port Talboot.

“We hope that Wales' two freeports will deliver for the country,” said Roger Maggs MBE, the chair of the Celtic Freeport bid consortium. “The future is exciting,” he added.