Making Port of Tyne a 'free port' would bring post-Brexit trade boost 'equivalent to £1,500 for everyone in South Tyneside'
The Port of Tyne is among a list of candidates eyed up for the free port initiative aimed at boosting trade, investment and jobs after Brexit..
Trade Secretary Liz Truss said today the scheme will create "thousands of jobs" as part of the UK's future trade arrangements.
On a visit to Teesside, she "the world's most advanced free port model" will be brought forward as soon as possible.
Free ports are areas inside the UK geographically, but legally outside of the UK customs territory.
Once the UK leaves the EU, seaports and airports across the UK will be invited to bid to become one of up to 10 free ports with the aspiration of increasing trade with new markets across the world.
Jason Millett, the chief operating officer for Mace, the consultancy which drew up the vision, said: “Our polling shows that they are popular across the political spectrum, with 8 in 10 people supporting their creation around the country, and would give a possible economic bonus of £1,500 per person in areas they are created.
“They already exist in many countries right around the world and it’s great that the UK now has plans to catch up. I look forward to hearing more about the Government’s proposals and locations selected over the next few months and hope that they decided to 'supercharge' them by combining them with enterprise zones which is the recommendation our report put forward.”
Port of Tyne bosses say they are behind the scheme, which they say present the best compromise arrangement if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
Matt Beeton, Port of Tyne Chief Executive Officer, said: “We welcome the announcement today from the Trade Secretary and look forward to progressing our Free Port application.”
Such schemes have proved successful in the USA, China and Dubai, and seek to benefit complex supply chains that will be hardest hit by Brexit.
Mr Beeton said it’s a concept that will bring the most benefit to advanced manufacturers in the North East seeking to attract new investment with quick routes to global markets.
He said: “The Government’s Free Ports Advisory Panel needs to consider the complex needs of manufacturers like Komatsu, Nissan and others and create solutions that safeguard jobs and stimulates further foreign investment.
“We strongly believe a Free Port covering the region’s advanced manufacturing cluster and key transport nodes like the Port of Tyne has the potential to supercharge regional growth by unlocking post-Brexit opportunities in new and existing supply chains.”
He said the difference was a Free Port model that isn’t restricted to a geographic boundary, which many fear could restrict the economy and negatively impact business in the North.
Rather a Virtual Free Port consisting of multiple sites connecting for example, the Port of Tyne, to other regional international ports, regional Enterprise Zones and IMAP. This model would greatly benefit Nissan’s UK manufacturing facility, and others including Komatsu and Hitachi.