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Ministers look to create 10 post-Brexit tax-free ports

The government is to offer airports and ports a chance to become ‘freeports’ as part of its Brexit preparations.

The international trade secretary Liz Truss will announce the government plans today (2 August) to create up to 10 freeports, which will be free of ‘unnecessary checks and paperwork’.

According to the government, these zones will reduce costs and bureaucracy, and encouraging manufacturing businesses to set up or expand.

In addition, the government claimed it will also be able to take advantage of ‘post-Brexit opportunities’, such as trade with the USA and Asian markets.

However, the EU Commission last month published a report which warned that free ports could be used for money laundering.

The international trade secretary will make the announcement as she visits one of the UK’s major ports in the Northern Powerhouse, Teesport, alongside Tees Valley mayor, Ben Houchen.

The mayor has championed freeports, and a report commissioned by his authority found a freeport could provide a significant boost to his region and the UK area’s GDP.

Other ports which have expressed an interest in the bidding process include the Port of Tyne, Milford Haven and London Gateway.

‘Freedoms transformed London’s Docklands in the 1980s, and freeports will do the same for towns and cities across the UK,’ said Ms Truss.

‘They will onshore enterprise and manufacturing as the gateway to our future prosperity, creating thousands of jobs.

‘We will have a truly independent trade policy after we leave the EU on October 31. I look forward to working with the freeports advisory panel to create the world’s most advanced freeport model and launch the new ports as soon as possible.’

But Labour’s shadow international trade secretary, Barry Gardiner, said ‘Freeports are a race to the bottom that will have money launderers and tax dodgers rubbing their hands with glee’.

‘Freeports and free enterprise zones risk companies shutting up shop in one part of the country in order to exploit tax breaks elsewhere, and, worst of all, lower employment rights,’ said Mr Gardiner.

‘The British people did not vote for this new administration and they certainly did not vote to see their jobs and livelihoods threatened in favour of gifting further tax breaks to big companies and their bosses.’

Photo Credit – pixel2013 (Pixabay)

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