The Port of Tyne in North East England, one of the UK’s major deep-sea ports and a vital trading gateway to global markets, is an advocate of Free Ports, believing that the facility presents the best compromise arrangement if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
Handling 4.5 million tonnes of cargo each year, operating one of Europe’s largest automotive terminals; its operations provide solutions to some of the UK’s biggest blue-chip companies with growth in its container terminal growing 25% since 2015.
Commenting on the ongoing issue, Matt Beeton, Port of Tyne Chief Executive Officer, said: “We welcome the announcement from the Trade Secretary and look forward to progressing our Free Port application.”
The Port of Tyne supports the concept for Free Ports that has proved successful in the USA, China and Dubai, one that establishes multi-site Free Port designation zones, or ‘Virtual Free Ports’ that seek to benefit complex supply chains that will be hardest hit by Brexit. It’s a concept that will bring the most benefit to advanced manufacturers in the North East seeking to attract new investment with quick routes to global markets.
Just like a geographic Free Port, a Virtual Free Port would sit outside of UK Customs and offer the ability to defer payment of taxes on imported goods and materials and would avoid them altogether, if final goods are exported.
“The Government’s Free Ports Advisory Panel needs to consider the complex needs of manufacturers like Komatsu, Nissan and others and create solutions that safeguard jobs and stimulates further foreign investment. We strongly believe a Free Port covering the region’s advanced manufacturing cluster and key transport nodes like the Port of Tyne has the potential to supercharge regional growth by unlocking post-Brexit opportunities in new and existing supply chains,” Matt Beeton added.
The difference being a Free Port model that isn’t restricted to a geographic boundary, which many fear could restrict the economy and negatively impact business in the North. Rather a Virtual Free Port consisting of multiple sites connecting for example, the Port of Tyne, to other regional international ports, regional Enterprise Zones and IMAP.