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Free trade zones, often referred to as free ports, represent one of the biggest opportunities for sustainable economic growth and job creation in Britain today. If implemented properly they could do more to rebalance the UK economy and empower the regions than any other policy so far.
Regardless of the nature and details of our future relationship with the European Union, free trade zones could create massive opportunities for Britain’s businesses and local authorities alike.
Contrary to assumed wisdom, while free trade zones are often located at sea ports this is not exclusively the case. In fact many exist around airports and other major logistical hubs.
A free trade zone, wherever it is geographically within a nation, sits outside of its customs border. This means that goods, such as raw materials, can enter the free trade zone without occurring any tariffs and duties usually due at the national border, and leave the country in a similar tax free manner.
Free trade zones build on the duty deferral companies enjoy from the bonded warehousing schemes that exist in the UK today, by allowing processing and manufacturing activity at more competitive costs.
When it comes to the national public finances, free trade zones mean sacrificing some direct tax revenue in return for jobs, economic growth and their contribution to the exchequer. At a local authority level, a free trade zone can mean greater business rates revenue and lower unemployment.