Last reviewed 14 October 2020

We reported in February on the Government’s proposal to establish 10 freeports in the UK (see Government seeks views on its freeports policy).

The Treasury has now published further details, confirming that the Freeport bidding process in England to open before the end of this year with the first on track to be open by December 2021.

Sea, air and rail ports will be invited to bid for Freeport status which will give them:

  • streamlined planning processes to aid brownfield redevelopment

  • a package of tax reliefs to help drive jobs, growth and innovation

  • simplified customs procedures and duty suspensions on goods.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Our new Freeports will create national hubs for trade, innovation and commerce, regenerating communities across the UK and supporting jobs. 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.”

Designed to attract major domestic and international investment, the hubs of enterprise will allow places to carry out business inside a country’s land border but where different customs rules apply. They have, the Chancellor said, been successfully used in countries around the world to drive prosperity and boost trade.

A firm can import goods into a Freeport without paying tariffs, process 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, he explained.

“We want all the nations of the UK to share in the benefits of Freeports,” the Government said. “As such, we are working constructively and collaboratively with the devolved administrations to ensure Freeports are a UK-wide offer that will enable the creation of Freeports in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

See https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/freeports-consultation for more details of the Government’s plans.