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Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced the locations of eight new freeports in England, which promise to bring trade, jobs and billions of pounds of private sector investment across the UK.

Following a lengthy consultation process last year, the Chancellor announced the freeport locations in this week's Budget (March 3) as part of the government's levelling up agenda. 

He said in his speech that they would: "encourage free trade and reinforce [the UK's] position as an outward-looking, trading nation, open to the world." 

What are freeports? 

Freeports are designated hubs of enterprise – usually around shipping ports and airports – that have different customs and tariff rules than the rest of the UK. They have been used in countries around the world to drive prosperity and boost trade. 

What will freeports benefit from? 

  • simpler planning to allow businesses to build 
  • infrastructure funding to improve transport links  
  • cheaper customs – with favourable tariffs, VAT or duties 
  • lower taxes – with tax breaks to encourage construction, private investment, and job creation 

Where will the freeports be located? 

  • East Midlands Airport 
  • Felixstowe and Harwich
  • Humber region
  • Liverpool City Region 
  • Plymouth 
  • Solent  
  • Thames  
  • Teesside 

PD Ports CEO, Frans Calje, said: "As the Statutory Harbour Authority for the River Tees, we are delighted that the government has awarded our region this opportunity and is now looking forward to continuing to work closely with them to maximise the benefits this will bring to our region. 

"This marks the beginning of a new chapter in the Tees Valley renaissance – freeport status will enable us at PD Ports to build on our successful track record of attracting investment and delivering real, sustainable jobs across the region, for the region." 

Richard Ballantyne, CEO of the British Ports Association, added: "We welcome this as the first tranche of freeports in England but there will be regions that are disappointed not to have been recognised 

"It is important that the Government now considers how it can extend many of these benefits elsewhere if it is serious about implementing its levelling up agenda." 

The government says the freeports will begin operations later this year. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are expected to announce their own policies on freeports. 

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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