FTA welcomes UK government’s Freeport plan

By Damian Brett

Logistics organisation Freight Transport Association (FTA) has welcomed the UK government’s plans to establish 10 freeports but said questions about the scheme remain.

The organisation said the move had the potential to unlock significant opportunities for international trade.

However, Zoe McLernon, multimodal policy manager at FTA, added that it would like more details on the plan.

“This detail will be vital to addressing any potential issues with fairness and competition, planning processes, friction with Northern Ireland Protocol, custom processes and investment into infrastructure,” McLernon said.

“Freeports are no miracle cure for economic malaise, but could have a major role in economic restart and recovery. We want to work with government to ensure their establishment delivers the best outcome for logistics and the wider economy.”

FTA would like the UK government to consider a multi-site concept, or virtual Freeport zones, to account for businesses and industries that do not already operate in the direct vicinity of a port, airport or railway terminal as this would provide a corridor of opportunity for multiple industries to benefit.

“Additional infrastructure will also play a vital role in the development and sustainability of each Freeport; we ask for flexibility and freedoms with planning processes to make this possible. Our members would like to see government consider a multimodal approach to grant users access via all modes of transport,” McLernon added.

“FTA’s members also want to see government provide a clear definition of a Freeport; clear parameters, in addition to economic assessments, need to be established to better understand the proposals.

“And our members involved in international trade have stressed the need for any proposed customs and tax arrangements to add value and benefits beyond those available in existing customs regulations.”

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