Heathrow ‘key’ to success of UK’s freeports push, airport says
Heathrow Airport has said that the UK’s biggest air travel hub has a “key role in facilitating the successful implementation of the UK’s freeports policy”.
In its application for freeport status, which was submitted on Friday, the airport said it played “a central role in facilitating Britain’s position as an independent trading nation by enabling daily flights to long-haul growth markets all over the world”.
“Designating Heathrow as an ‘Associated Freeport’ will ensure the unique role of the UK’s only hub airport and the biggest port by value is fully maximised – allowing the UK’s businesses, customers, and supply chains to capitalise on the international connections and routes available, whilst reducing administrative burdens and controls”, it added.
In a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Barclay, the airport’s director of communications Nigel Milton said that Heathrow wanted to see the UK as well connected to China and India as it was to the US.
The focus on Asia comes just days after international trade secretary Liz Truss said that she had formally applied for the UK to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade pact.
It proposed “multiple, daily, year-round” flights to a “long list” of cities across these destinations, with Heathrow the central node linking the destinations to other potential freeport destinations such as Teeside and Belfast in the UK.
“A joined-up approach would allow the whole of the UK to connect direct to global growth opportunities and help deliver on the Government’s commitment to levelling up the UK”, it added.
According to the application letter, in 2019 34 per cent of all UK cargo travelled through the airport, with a total worth of £140bn.
In addition, 75 per cent of all long-haul flights from the country depart from Heathrow.
The freeports policy is a key plank of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s plan to “turbo-charge” Britain after its departure from the EU.
The application window to become one of 10 new freeports closed on Friday, with ports and airports around the country submitting applications.
Among the other sites bidding for freeport status was the Thames Estuary, which has pulled together a bid involving the Port of Tilbury, Thames Gateway port, and Ford’s engine factory at Dagenham.
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However, if the plan is to spread the new economic zones around the country, the proximity of Heathrow and the Thames Estuary could spell bad news for one of the bids.
In total, 30 bids were expected, with submissions to be evaluated in March. It is hoped that the first of the new freeports will be in operation before the end of this year.
What are freeports?
Free ports are specially designated economic zones where normal tax and customs rules do not apply.https://2017d521b9c9d48cd4b03c9dc4fa89b4.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
All forms of port are included under the status – ferry ports, airports, and rail ports.
Read more: What are free ports and what are the economic benefits?
In such ports, goods can be imported, manufactured, and exported again without facing standard tariffs or requiring normal customs checks.
Companies which operate within free ports do so with the benefit of paying a lower rate of VAT tax and employment tax, as well as relief when it comes to purchasing land.