Wednesday 7 October 2020 12:01 am

Rishi Sunak unveils plan to create England Freeports

The Treasury will soon start taking bids from cities and towns in England to become Freeports next year, which will see businesses benefit from tax breaks and relaxed customs procedures.

The government announced today that its selection process will begin before the end of the year and will see the first England Freeports set up by the end of 2021.

Creating Freeports in the UK has been a long discussed prospect since the country voted in favour of leave the EU in 2016.

The initiative will be made possible when the country leaves the EU’s single market and customs union on 31 December this year.

Businesses in Freeports will get tax cuts on investment spending, while also benefitting from “new measures to speed up planning processes” to accelerate development, according to the Treasury.

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They will also be able to import goods tariff-free, before “processing them into a final good and then either pay a tariff on goods sold into the domestic market, or export the final goods without paying UK tariffs”.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the Freeports will be “national hubs for trade, innovation and commerce”.

“They will attract investment from around the world as we embrace new opportunities following our departure from the EU and will be a key driver for economic recovery as we build back better post coronavirus,” he said.

Eamonn Butler, director of the free market Adam Smith Institute think tank, said today’s announcement was a “promising package of measures”.

“Allowing Britain to trade freely on the global stage and rebuild the maritime industry and our economy battered by the pandemic,” he said.

“This process to become a freeport should be free  and transparent and fair as possible, in doing so it will underline the basis of Britain’s platform pushing a liberal agenda of free trade around the world.”