Freeports to “boost investment” in UK after Brexit, say policymakers

The Government will establish 10 new ‘Freeports’ in a bid to boost growth and encourage trade after the UK leaves the EU.

In an announcement made this week, the Department for International Trade (DIT) has invited ports and airports across the UK to bid to become one of 10 Freeports after 31 October 2019.

Freeports is the term used to describe business and trading hubs free of “unnecessary checks and paperwork”, including customs and tax benefits. The zones are also believed to reduce costs and bureaucracy.

Businesses within the zone will be able to import, warehouse and re-export products duty-free, cutting down costs and helping them compete globally. They may also be able to defer paying tax on products while they are stored onsite, improving cash flow management.

They are not a new invention, however. Freeports were first introduced in the UK in the 1980s to innovate and transform London’s Docklands. There are also thousands of other Freeports in use today across the world, including 250 in the USA.

While Freeports can be established under European legislation, the UK has not taken advantage of the scheme since 2012.

According to the report, Freeports will revolutionise and reinvigorate trade in British towns and cities at risk of being left behind by Brexit, by encouraging new businesses to set up in these regions, creating new jobs and stimulating the local economy.

Commenting on the report, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss MP said: “Freedoms transformed London’s Docklands in the 1980s, and Freeports will do the same for towns and cities across the UK. They will onshore enterprise and manufacturing as the gateway to our future prosperity, creating thousands of jobs.

“We will have a truly independent trade policy after we leave the EU on October 31. I look forward to working with the Freeports Advisory Panel to create the world’s most advanced Freeport model and launch the new ports as soon as possible.”

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak added: “We are exploring Freeports as an innovative way to drive growth and support thousands of high-skilled jobs across the UK.

“We will focus on those areas that could benefit the most, as we look to boost investment and opportunity for communities across the country.”

 

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