What is a freeport?
Freeports are a special kind of port where normal tax and customs rules do not apply. These can be airports as well as seaports. At a freeport, imports can enter with simplified customs documentation and without paying tariffs.
Businesses operating inside designated areas in and around the port can manufacture goods using the imports and add value, before exporting again without ever paying the full tariff on the original goods they imported – although a tariff may be payable on the finished product when it reaches its final destination, including if that destination is in the same country outside the freeport.
Freeports are similar to free zones, or ‘enterprise zones’, which are designated areas subject to a broad array of special regulatory requirements, tax breaks and government support. The difference is that a freeport is designed to specifically encourage businesses that import, process and then re-export goods, rather than more general business support or regeneration objectives.
Where will the new freeports be?
The locations of England's eight new freeports were announced at the March 2021 Budget:
East Midlands Airport
Felixstowe and Harwich
Liverpool City Region
Location maps published
The Government has published location maps of the eight successful English Freeports bids which show the proposed outer boundaries of the proposed Freeport areas and the customs and tax sites. These locations will now move to the next stage of Freeports designation and remain subject to approval.
Freeports in numbers
3,500 freeports are estimated around the world, employing 66m people
7freeports operated in the UK between 1984 and 2012
0there are no freeports currently in the UK, though there is one on the Isle of Man.
Source: House of Commons Library
INVEST & GROW
Merchant Ports Ltd believe that the opportunity for both UK and foreign business to invest in UK Freeport locations is now.
As the government formalise their plans for the approved locations, the incentives to set up business or utilise the existing property and services in these locations is tremendous.
The surrounding areas will see growth, regeneration as trade is set to bloom.
From commercial property, to setting up business or investing in residential real estate these are key strategic growth locations for many years to come.