The United Kingdom has announced the creation of up to ten “free ports” throughout the country, in a move that Boris Johnson’s government says will “turbocharge” the post-Brexit economy by creating thousands of new jobs in undeveloped regions, boost trade, and remove costly red tape and regulations.
A consultation group has been commissioned to develop up to ten free ports in the UK by the start of 2021 when the UK officially is freed from European Union regulations. The free ports will be economic zones, that do not necessarily need to be located at physical ports, in which businesses will be allowed to import goods and export them without being subject to normal tax and tariff rules, cutting costs for businesses.
After the ten-week consultation period, the government will take bids from sea, air, and rail ports to gain the status of a free port, a statement from the government said. Although the precise location of the ports remains to be determined, the government has hinted that it will focus on economically deprived “left behind” regions of the country.
“Without Brussels telling us what to do, we can start doing what’s best for British businesses. We can set the rules to suit our needs,” Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak wrote in The Sun.
“If we get this right, businesses inside these zones will boom and become magnets for investment. This could lead to thousands of new jobs – and in parts of the country that need them most,” Sunak added.
Excited to launch a Freeports consultation. As a proud, independent, outward-looking country we champion global free trade 🌎Freeports will help to attract new businesses, create jobs and spread opportunity. #levellingup #freeports @abports21 pic.twitter.com/QxSo0A83Bl
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) February 10, 2020
The Labour Party has criticised the idea of free ports, with John McDonnell, the far-left shadow chancellor, telling The Guardian that they are a “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 freeports 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 freeports to hoard assets and avoid taxes while the rest of us feel the effects of under-funded public services,” said McDonnell.
The government first announced the initiative in August of 2019, pointing to the United States as a successful model of the trading scheme.
“There are already thousands of very successful free trading zones around the world, with the United States having pioneered the creation of over 250 free trade zones, employing 420,000 people, many in high-skilled manufacturing jobs,” said the Trade Department.
“One such port is in Miami, which sees over 7 million tons of cargo pass through its port every year. Businesses within the zone can import, warehouse and re-export products duty-free. This cuts down costs for businesses, helping them become more globally competitive,” the statement added.
Post-Brexit Free Ports Could Create 150,000 Jobs in Northern England, Add £9bn to British Economy https://t.co/t6LuCb1zTT
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 18, 2018
Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka