In response to the news that the Government will be announcing a Freeports Advisory Panel to ensure the UK “is ready to trade post-Brexit”, Harry Theochari, Chair of Maritime UK, said: “We are pleased to see the Government is looking at plans to boost growth in the UK’s coastal communities, recognising the pivotal role that ports play in the UK economy. Free ports have proved successful in stimulating investment and jobs in a range of locations around the world, and there is no reason they couldn’t help contribute towards growth here in the UK.
However free ports are one piece of a much larger puzzle. Harry Theochari explains that: “We warmly welcome the Government’s focus on unlocking the potential of our coastal communities. Free ports can be one important piece of a large puzzle, including a range of measures which could be transformative to the fortunes of our seaside towns and cities.
“Maritime UK recently launched the Coastal Powerhouse, a brand new initiative which sets out the measures needed to unlock the potential of our coastal communities. This includes investing in maritime research and innovation in key areas like decarbonisation, unlocking new private investment in ports, investing in connectivity and infrastructure, and backing industry-led regional cluster hubs.
“Implementing free ports successfully requires time, collaboration and careful planning, but we are keen to work closely with government to ensure their plans are a success for the long term. The Government cites the success of free ports in the United States, where 250 free ports have been created, employing 420,000 people, many in high-skilled manufacturing jobs. To see the same success in the UK, government must work closely with industry and business leaders across the country. Our ports facilitate the movement of 95% of all UK trade, it’s vital that industry and government collaborates to ensure their successful future development.”