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If it were so easy to boost the economy by setting up free-trade zones, why doesn’t every country do it?
That is the central question that both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have to answer. Both have supported the idea that after the UK leaves the EU it could set up such zones, in places including Aberdeen, Peterhead, Teesside and Belfast. There would be no customs duties so goods could be imported and exported without border taxes.
The plan would, according to Johnson, “turbocharge” the local economy and create thousands of jobs. Although as the UK Trade Policy Observatory(UKTPO) at the University of Sussex observed earlier this year, the opposite is true. In fact, “free ports or more generally free zones, would make little impact on rebuilding the UK economy after Brexit”, as far as their analysis goes.