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Trade row

SNP to dismiss call to set up freeports in Scotland

Ivan McKee

Ivan McKee says freeports are no answer to Brexit

The SNP is to expected to dismiss plans to create free ports which the Scottish Secretary and the Chancellor are keen to promote as part of Britain’s economy recovery.

Delegates attending the SNP’s virtual conference will be asked on Monday to acknowledge “that freeports cannot and will not offset the damage caused by Brexit”.

Their objection is based on taking Scotland and the UK out of the world’s biggest free trade area and single market.

The motion expresses concern that the Tories’ focus on free ports “may be positioned to compete on low cost, low wage, low value opportunities with which they are often associated globally.


“Conference reaffirms that is entirely at odds with the SNP’s ambition for Scotland’s economy to continue to build a high productivity, high wage, innovative economy built on the strength of our world leading technology, businesses and academic clusters.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack told the Scottish Conservative conference last week that initiatives including City and Growth Deals, the Union Connectivity Review and freeports can deliver a transformational economic boost and create tens of thousands of jobs.

Port of Cromarty has expressed an interest in setting up a freeport where goods incur no tariffs until they enter other parts of the economy. This way they can become international hubs, attracting manufacturing and innovation.

Last week Scottish Trade Minister Ivan McKee said: “Free ports won’t offset the damage that will be caused by Brexit and we remain concerned that the UK model might focus on low cost, low wage and low value opportunities,”

The SNP Conference also calls on the Scottish Government to undertake a review into how working practices should be adapted to meet the needs of the future economy, including the possibility of a four-day working week and more support for people to work from home or closer to home, with a view to reform when Scotland gains full control of employment rights.

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