UK government unveils plans for 10 free ports across UK
Andrea Leadsom: ‘fantastic opportunity’
Ten free ports are to be launched across Britain with UK government ministers promising they will create thousands of jobs.
The Government has launched a consultation process aimed at naming the locations of the free ports by the end of the year so that they can be open for business in 2021.
Goods brought in to free ports would be free of tariffs until they enter the domestic market, with no duty payable if they are re-exported.
Free ports could be located inland as well as adjacent to ports , the Government said.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak said: “Free ports 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 free ports that work for all of the UK.”
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.
“Free ports 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.”
Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom added: “Free ports represent a fantastic opportunity for our businesses to increase their trade with companies from all over the world.
“Not only will they help create jobs and level up the UK, but they underscore our commitment to championing global free trade – unleashing our country’s potential.”
Once the 10-week consultation is completed, the Government will invite sea, air and rail ports to bid for free port status “on a competitive basis”.
Ministers said a full customs declaration would not be required to move goods into a free port.
Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: “This is the revival of a failed Thatcherite plan from the 1980s, designed to cut away at regulation and our tax base.
“There is very little solid evidence that so-called free ports create jobs or boost economic growth, showing this up as another ideological move from a far-right government.
“This plan only represents a ‘levelling-up’ for the super-rich, who will use free ports to hoard assets and avoid taxes while the rest of us feel the effects of under-funded public services.”