Brexit trade initiative

Port of Cromarty plans Brexit freeport trade zone

Port of Cromarty Firth

Port plan: ‘ideal location’

An ambitious initiative is being launched to create Scotland’s first Free Trade Zone, or freeport, which aims to secure a Brexit pipeline of work and jobs.

The team behind Opportunity Cromarty Firth are promoting an idea being proposed by the Treasury to create up to 10 UK freeports which are legally outside the country’s customs territory.

Goods incur no tariffs until they enter other parts of the economy. This way they can become international hubs, attracting manufacturing and innovation.

There have been previous discussions in Scotland about the creation of freeports.

Opportunity Cromarty Firth is backed by the Port of Cromarty Firth along with partners from industry, academia and the public sector including Global Energy Group, The Highland Council, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, and the University of the Highlands & Islands.

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Plans for the zone will be outlined at a virtual public launch event on Thursday 20 August. The event, to be held via WebEx (Cisco), will include presentations from key partners, information on the process involved in becoming a Free Trade Zone, and a Q&A session so people can share their own ideas and views on the project.

Bob Buskie, chief executive of the Port of Cromarty Firth, said: “We believe Cromarty Firth is the ideal location to establish one of these Free Trade Zones, and we hope those who come to the virtual public event will be as excited as we are at the opportunities a Free Trade Zone could bring to our area.

“Cromarty Firth is steeped in industrial history, having supported North Sea oil and gas activity since the 1970s, and is now playing a critical role in the Scottish offshore wind sector.

Bob Buskie

Bob Buskie: ‘we could become a hub of industry’ (pic: Terry Murden)

“The Firth hosts a number of leading supply chain companies as well as a locally skilled workforce with essential engineering experience.

“This is coupled with first-class port infrastructure and manufacturing facilities, which have benefited from over £110m of industry-led investments.

“Becoming a Free Trade Zone will make Cromarty Firth and the Highlands a vital hub of industry, trade and employment in the renewables sector, driving forward a greener economy in a post-Brexit Scotland and UK.”

Those interested in attending the virtual public launch event should complete the Eventbrite registration form here Event spaces are limited, so participants are asked to sign up well in advance.

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