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Barclay urges McKee to rethink freeports rejection

Stephen Barclay

Stephen Barclay: ‘freeports can benefit the people of Scotland’

Pressure is mounting on the Scottish government to open bids for freeports as it emerges that a Treasury minister has written to Holyrood outlining the benefits of the proposal.

Steve Barclay, chief secretary to the Treasury, is urging the Scottish Government’s Trade Secretary Ivan McKee to soften his opposition to freeports, arguing that they could help the Scottish economy.

The UK government is hoping to have an initial 10 freeports operating across the UK, including sites in the four devolved nations and regions. Port of Cromarty has made it known that it is keen to promote a free trade zone.

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

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack told the Scottish Conservative conference earlier this month 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.

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Mr McKee, recently called for view on free trade and enterprise zones, but declared: “Freeports 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 on Monday backed a motion to that effect.

In his letter seen by The Herald, Mr Barclay wrote: “ I strongly believe that Freeports will greatly benefit the people of Scotland through increased investment and job opportunities to rejuvenate left-behind communities and promote economic growth.”



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