Brexit could boost UK growth with introduction of free ports, new report suggests
Brexit could unleash British ports, boosting UK manufacturing, trade and regional growth, according to a new report published by the Centre for Policy Studies.
In The Free Ports Opportunity, Rishi Sunak MP argues that EU law has long held back the potential of British ports and that Brexit would bring an end to this, allowing the introduction of free ports across the nation.
Free ports are areas that, although inside the geographic boundary of a country, are considered outside the country for customs purposes. This means that goods can enter and re-exit the port without incurring the usual import procedures or tariffs, incentivising domestic manufacturing.
“Upon leaving the EU, Britain will find itself with more opportunities for economic innovation than at any time in almost 50 years. As the date of our departure draws closer, it will be the responsibility of the government to ensure Britain is not timid in seizing those opportunities.
“Foreign trade zones are flourishing all around the world, except in the EU. Post-Brexit they could play an important role in signalling Britain’s openness to the world.
“Brexit will enable the UK to capitalise on the free port opportunity. Today, the EU Customs Union and EU state aid laws make this almost impossible.
“Free ports could create more than 86,000 jobs for the British economy if they were as successful as those in the US, and they would mainly be created in areas outside London, where economic need is higher. Of the UK’s 30 largest ports, 17 are in the bottom quartile of local authorities when ranked by the Office for National Statistics’ Index of Multiple Deprivation, and three quarters are in below-average local authorities.
“Ports are already a vital strategic asset for the UK economy, accounting for 96% of all trade volume and 75% of trade value. A free ports programme would build on an existing UK strength and reconnect us with our proud maritime history.”