Free Ports without EU Directives
Free ports are zones that exist outside the respective country’s customs law and are thus intended to make trade more attractive. Between 1984 and 2012, the United Kingdom already had seven free ports - now eight new ones are to be created along England's coasts and extend up to 45 km inland.
Advantages of Free Ports
The free zones are expected to generate a large increase in gross value added, and the special tax zones are expected to attract many new businesses. This in turn is expected to create tens of thousands of new jobs.
Space for New Businesses
Unlike small free trade ports, which only store duty free goods, the UK’s new free ports offer plenty of space for commerce. Manufacturing companies in particular could benefit from this opportunity. Parts can be imported, manufactured locally and then exported again completely free of customs. This saves costs and time since the detour via the British economic area is avoided.
Regenerate Structurally Weak Regions
The free ports sites are also planned specifically to strengthen structurally weak regions with great potential through the new commercial areas, boosting the local economy. In addition, the deregulation of the ports is intended to bring balance to the market.
Crime and Risks for Employees
Critics accuse the British government of putting workers' rights at risk as the EU legislation on free trade zones no longer applies. In addition, trade unions were not included in the planning process. Critics also predict a rise in smuggling and counterfeiting as there would be no customs intervention.
Green Ports in Scotland
Criticism is also coming from within the United Kingdom on what exact conditions will apply to the zones. Scotland has announced the creation of so-called "Green Ports", which require sustainable trade, higher wages and fair working conditions. The fact that Northern Ireland and Wales are also planning their own rules shows the controversial nature of free ports.
Competition for EU Free Trade Zones
No matter what form the ports eventually have, they will create a completely new competitive situation for the free trade zones in the European Union. While the latter must adhere to EU requirements, the deregulated zones in England can be subsidized. For trade, the British free ports will thus become significantly more attractive, which will intensify competition between European ports in the long run.
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