UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a roster of eight English freeports in the Budget announcement. The freeports will be low-tariff business zones created to stimulate trade and investment in the wake of Brexit and the coronavirus crisis.
One advantage of freeports is that companies operating there are able to import components without tariffs, complete the manufacturing process and then export finished products or sell them in the UK. The initiative will “reinforce our position as an outward-looking, trading nation, open to the world,” Sunak said.
The Chancellor used the Budget to announce the locations of England’s eight new freeports, including: Thames Estuary, East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe and Harwich, Humberside, Liverpool City, Plymouth, Solent and on Teeside.
The new economic zones, which offer tax advantages and customs relief to businesses, will provide an “unprecedented economic boost across the UK”, Sunak said. The sites will be eligible for Stamp Duty and business rates relief, as well as National Insurance relief for employers in some cases.
A further two freeports in the devolved administrations of the UK are still to be announced.
The policy is one of the centrepieces of the government’s bid to level up the UK economy over the coming years. According to the Treasury the freeports will be up and running by the end of the year.
Thames Estuary Envoy, Kate Willard OBE said in a statement, “We are absolutely delighted to have been selected as a freeport location. We believe that the Thames Estuary is the right place to have freeport status, and are so pleased that the government thinks so too.”
Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss, said: “We are taking back control of our trade policy, and opening every corner of the UK to opportunities across the world.
Freeports will unleash the potential of our historic ports, creating jobs and regenerating communities across the UK. These hubs will also deepen partnerships around the world as we restore our economic and political independence.”
The freeports announcement releases innovation, relief and hope amongst the uncertainty of Brexit and the pandemic.
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Rebecca Morpeth Spayne,
Editor, International Trade Magazine
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 922