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Emmanuel Macron‘s potential rival at the 2022 French presidential election, Xavier Bertrand, has once again asked the President to offer Calais special tax privileges in a bid to entice customers from mainland Britain after the Brexit transition period. Mr Bertrand is a high-profile former member of Les Républicains and with strong links to the fishing industry. He is the President of the Hauts-de-France region and served as health minister under Jacques Chirac and labour minister under Nicolas Sarkozy.In September, Minister of Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili dismissed the prospect of a duty-free zone. However, in a letter, the President of the Hauts-de-France region has reminded Mr Macron of commitments he made in 2018. The French President had accepted the principle during a trip to Calais in January 2018.
Mr Bertrand wrote that Ms Pompili’s declaration was “in total contradiction” with his remarks. For Mr Bertrand, this initiative “would have been a response to the possible unfair competition of the ten free ports envisaged by the British government by the end of 2021”.
In an interview with Express.co.uk, Government trade adviser Shanker Singham welcomed the idea, urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson to do the same in Dover.He said: “What would be a great suggestion is a twinned free trade zone Dover-Calais.”That would be such a great opportunity, with the Channel Tunnel as a link between them. “He added: “I do a lot of work on Economic Free Zones and they do do straddle borders.”You could use the UK free port agenda to deliver a Dover-Calais free trade zone.”
According to the Sunday Telegraph, the ports in Britain will be “fully operational” within 18 months of the UK leaving the customs union and single market at the end of this year. Free ports already exist in places including Geneva, Luxembourg, Singapore, Beijing, Monaco and Delaware, where they are often used to store valuable assets.