The Free Ports Opportunity

Brexit provides a new trade opportunity for Britain: the creation of Free Ports.

EU law has long held back the potential of British ports. In The Free Ports Opportunity (a new report published by the Centre for Policy Studies on Monday 14 November), Rishi Sunak MP shows how Brexit would bring an end to this, allowing the introduction of Free Ports across the nation.

Already successful in the USA, Free Ports would provide a fast response to Brexit that would increase manufacturing outputreinvigorate the North, and promote trade.

Free Ports are areas that, although inside the geographic boundary of a country, are considered outside the country for customs purposes. This means that goods can enter and re-exit the port without incurring usual import procedures or tariffs – incentivising domestic manufacturing. 

  • Free Ports could create more 86,000 jobs for the British economy if they were as successful as those in the United States.
  • Free Port jobs would mainly be created in areas outside London where economic need is higher. Of the UK’s 30 largest ports, 17 are in the bottom quartile of Local Authorities when ranked by the ONS’ Index of Multiple Deprivation and three quarters are in ‘below average’ Local Authorities.
  • Leaving the EU will enable Britain to capitalise on the Free Port opportunity. Today, the EU Customs Union and EU State Aid laws make this almost impossible.
  • Free Ports have a broad appeal that could command bipartisan support, allowing the policy to act as a rapid response to Brexit.
  • Free Ports policy is fundamentally simple and is supported by a wealth of international precedent – making implementation possible over a short timescale.
  • Ports are already a vital strategic asset for the UK economy, accounting for 96% of all trade volume and 75% of trade value.
  • Free Ports programme would build on an existing UK strength and reconnect us with our proud maritime history: Britain’s port infrastructure is world class, and the UK ports sector is already the second largest in Europe.

Rishi Sunak MP - Monday, 14th November, 2016