Humber International Enterprise Park in the Port of Hull.
The Port of Hull.
Nick Hill

Supercharged Free Ports to create 80,000 jobs across Yorkshire and the Humber post-Brexit, says new report

Combining Free Ports with Northern enterprise zones would create almost 80,000 jobs across Yorkshire and the Humber while adding £4.7bn a year to the region’s economy, according to a new report published today.

Leaving the EU Customs Union will allow the government to apply ‘Supercharged Free Port’ status to seven ports in the North of England.

Modelling done by former senior Treasury economist Chris Walker revealed that this would boost international trade by £12bn and add £9bn a year (double the current economic output of York) to the UK’s GDP.

This would be equivalent to £1,500 a year extra for each Northern household, creating as many as 150,000 high-value jobs across the North.

According to private polling done by Survation for this report, 4 out of 5 people (83%) would support the creation of Supercharged Free Ports. 60% of those interviewed in Yorkshire and the Humber were also in favour.

The research has been conducted by Mace, the British consultancy and construction company behind projects including the fit-out of John Lewis at Victoria Gate in Leeds, and the construction of wind turbine factory for ABP in Hull.

The research says that from 30th March 2021, after the two year transition period has expired, Britain should make the most of being able to set its own trade policy by immediately designating seven areas across the North of England as ‘Supercharged Free Ports’.

These locations would be both Free Ports, geographical areas that allow goods to be imported into a country without paying import tariffs, and enterprise zones - locally designated areas subject to tax relief to encourage private investment.

The suggested ‘Supercharged Free Ports’ would be located around existing industrial clusters across the North to turbo-charge economic growth and trade:

  1. Immingham & Grimsby Ports
  2. Hull Port
  3. Rivers Hull & Humber
  4. Tees & Hartlepool
  5. Liverpool
  6. Tyne
  7. Manchester Airport

The analysis, which uses UK trade policy assumptions and the large amount of data from existing Free Ports around the world, shows that a policy of ‘Super-charged Free Ports’ would deliver a boost to Northern Powerhouse GDP of £9bn per year after 20 years of maturing.

Steve Gillingham, director for the North at Mace, said: “Our ports in the North, including Hull, Immingham and Grimsby, make up some of our country’s greatest assets. Transforming these ports into Supercharged Free Ports, as this report suggests, would ensure the North is well placed to drive post-Brexit growth and help rebalance the UK economy.

“This would not only drive industrial and economic development, but also create thousands of jobs which would in turn help to reduce inequality across Yorkshire.”

Lord Jim O’Neill, Crossbench Member of the House of Lords, former Treasury Minister and former chief economist at Goldman Sachs, added: “Rebalancing the UK’s economy is crucial to the future success of the whole country. The creation of Free Ports in the North of England will create opportunity, boost growth and free businesses to compete on the global stage”

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