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Published: 15:18, 10 February 2020
| Updated: 15:18, 10 February 2020
Government plans to create a series of “freeports” to help boost trade have been welcomed by Dover port chiefs.
The Treasury has started a ten-week consultation on its proposal, which would involve zones in which no duty is paid on goods until they enter the full UK market - and none at all is paid if they are re-exported from the port.
The government is also outlining possible tax incentives to encourage investment in freeport areas and believes the concept could create jobs in deprived coastal areas.
The Port of Dover said: “We welcome today’s announcement on freeports. For a high intensity operation like Dover, where space is already well utilised, extending the freeport concept beyond the dock gate could potentially create new opportunities for businesses.”
“We can see substantial benefit from a dual combination of the freeports concept and the unrivalled location of the closest port to the UK’s nearest and largest market. We will examine the consultation with interest with a view to ensuring the UK continues to maximise the benefits of the Port of Dover to support businesses across the UK and deliver Britain’s future trading success.”
The government said the free ports would “unleash the country’s potential.”
Business minister Andrea Leadsom, said: “Freeports represent a fantastic opportunity for our businesses to increase their trade with companies from all over the world. Not only will they help create jobs and level up the UK but they underscore our commitment to championing global free trade, unleashing our country’s potential.”
But there was a more muted reaction from some, with claims the initiative could be challenged by the EU.
Peel Ports, which owns Sheerness port, said it was aware of the plans but it was too early to say whether it would consider a bid. “We are aware of it and may consider it,” a spokeswoman said.
Labour deputy leader John McDonnell said: “There is very little solid evidence that so-called freeports create jobs or boost economic growth, showing this up as another ideological move from a far-right government.”
More by this authorPaul Francis