Up to ten new innovative Freeports will be opened across the UK as the Government seeks to level up the country and seize on the opportunities leaving the EU has presented.
A consultation has been launched setting out the Government’s vision for Freeports, with the aim of announcing the location of the new zones at the end of this year so they can be open for business in 2021.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Rishi Sunak, said: “Freeports will unleash the potential in our proud historic ports, boosting and regenerating communities across the UK as we level up. They will attract new businesses, spreading jobs, investment and opportunity to towns and cities up and down the country.This is all part of our mission as an open, outward-looking country, championing global free trade with vibrant Freeports that work for all of the UK.”
Freeports will be aimed at boosting trade, jobs and investment with a view to building innovative business clusters that benefit the local area as part of the Government’s commitment to level up every nation and region.
Freeports will also offer an opportunity for cutting-edge customs, transport and green technologies to be trialled in controlled environments, before being adopted more widely in relevant sectors of the economy. The British Government will work in close partnership with the Devolved Administrations so that all nations of the UK are able to share in the benefits of Freeports.
Benefits of the 2020 Freeports model could include:
Goods brought into a Freeport do not attract tariffs until they leave the Freeport and enter the domestic market.
No duty is payable if they are re-exported.
When raw materials are imported and processed into a final good, duties are only paid on the final good.
Freeports could be located inland as well as adjacent to ports. This can reduce relocation or investment costs for existing manufacturing sites near ports.
A full customs declaration would not be required to move goods into a Freeport. This saves businesses time and makes it easier to import goods.
Planning reforms to help sea ports develop within their boundaries and empower local councils to greenlight much-needed local construction projects.
A regeneration agenda to level up the local areas around Freeports
Innovative environments to trial new technologies.
Challenge-based initiatives to build collaborative partnerships between ports, businesses and innovators
In addition, the Government is considering tax measures that aim to:
Increase investment in infrastructure, construction and machinery in Freeports to raise productivity.
Incentivise research to stimulate innovation in Freeports.
Cut costs associated with processing goods through a port.
Reduce the costs of hiring workers working in Freeport sites.
The British Government said the UK’s high standards with respect to security, safety, workers’ rights, and the environment will not be compromised.
Once the 10-week consultation is completed, the Government will invite sea, air and rail ports to bid for Freeport status on a competitive basis.