UK freeports in place by 2021

The UK government aims to open the first freeports by the end of 2021. Photo: UK government

Industry Database

The first UK freeports could be in place by the end of 2021 in a bid to boost the economy, the government has revealed. Following a February-July government consultation on proposals for freeports, the government has said the freeport bidding process in England will open before the end of the year with the aim of opening the first freeports by the end of 2021.

It aims to establish at least one Freeport in each nation of the UK. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, 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."

The government said that freeports will benefit from streamlined planning processes to aid brownfield redevelopment; a package of tax reliefs to help drive jobs, growth and innovation; and simplified customs procedures and duty suspensions on goods.

Earlier this year, the government said it aimed to establish up to 10 new freeports across the UK, however the British Ports Association (BPA) said the government now appears to be more inclusive regarding the number of ports that could potentially be designated.

Richard Ballantyne, chief executive of the BPA, said: This is a welcome development and by being more inclusive in terms of the number of Freeports there might be, the Government can now explore how to better deliver on its levelling up agenda without picking regions over each other."

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