FREEPORTS CONSULTATION: Boosting trade, Jobs and Investment across the UK? Have your Say!

Date: 30/06/2020
Author: Susana Cordoba
Company: Susana Cordoba

The UK Government has decided to extend its consultation period for its freeport strategy till 13th July 2020. Greater Manchester Chamber is working alongside the Combined Local Authority to provide feedback regarding the proposed model and we want to hear from members to help shape our response.

Freeports were a centrepiece of the Prime Minister’s election campaign. They’re seen as a cornerstone of the Government’s plan to ‘level up’ across the country, positioning freeports as drivers of growth especially in areas of greatest need. There will be 10 freeports that will aim to be hotbeds for innovation, high-quality manufacturing, masters of trans-shipment and warehousing to enable wealth-creating goods and services.

But, what are Freeports?

Freeports are secure customs zones located at ports inside a country’s land border, although they are subject to different customs rules. They can provide reduced administrative burden and tariff controls, provide relief on duties, and import taxes, ease tax and planning regulations.

Freeports could greatly benefit exporters using freeports as a warehouse/manufacturing facility for products which will be re-exported, and for importers bringing raw materials which are being used to produce a final finished product. Duties will be paid only on the final product or those importers bringing finished goods to be released into the domestic market will only pay duties once those goods have left the freeport zone, which can help their cash flow.

So, what is the UK Government proposing?

Based on a benchmarking exercise that looked freeports across the globe, the UK government is considering a UK Freeport Model which would include multiple customs zones located within, or away from, a port seeking to maximise flexibility for port operators and businesses. This will be like Special Economic Zones (SEZ) 

Freeports will be designed to enhance trade and attract investment across the UK, boost growth and drive high-skilled jobs. Ultimately they should increase innovation and productivity in our port regions, especially those located in deprived areas.

What are the key areas from which the UK Government wishes to hear about?

  • Tariffs and customs
  • Tax
  • Planning
  • Regeneration
  • Innovation

To view the whole proposal, please click here

If you wish for your views to be included in the Chamber’s response, please email our Head of International Trade, Susana Córdoba at no later than the 6th July 2020. They key questions we wish to hear from businesses include:

  • Will reduced declaration requirements for moving goods into a Freeport represent a useful simplification of the administration of customs processes?
  • Do you have any suggestions on how to further simplify the administration of customs processes?
  • What do you see as the advantages and/or disadvantages of an inland Freeport site compared to a Freeport site which is adjacent to a port?
  • If there was a freeport (inland or near by a port) in the North of England, would you consider using it?
  • If you would consider the use of a freeport facility, what would you say would be the impact on your business, costs, and benefits?
  • What operational barriers to efficiency exists in ports that should be addressed through the development of an innovative technology and processes?

If you wish to submit your own feedback, you can do it online or  Write to: Freeports Team, Area D, Floor 5, Department for International Trade, 3 Whitehall Place, London, SW1A 2HP