Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Establishing a Free Port in Tees Valley

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Establishing a Free Port in Tees Valley

Article excerpt

MORE than 50 businesses and influential individuals have signed Mayor Ben Houchen's letter calling on Chancellor Philip Hammond for a study into establishing a free port in the Tees Valley.

A raft of firms who have a base in the region but whose work straddles the globe have come out in support of the plans put to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The letter, signed by Hitachi Rail, Sirius Minerals, Liberty Steel and Quorn foods, to name but a few, aims to capitalise post-Brexit by making the area a test case for the creation of free ports.

On a recent trip to Tees Valley, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis was asked about the plan.

He welcomed the proposal and said Government would consider it with the "most open mind possible".

Mayor Houchen has an upcoming meeting to push the case for free port status with Robert Jenrick MP, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, and Liz Truss MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who are looking at the proposition with interest. The Mayor's campaign has also won the public backing of Jake Berry MP, Minister for Local Growth and the Northern Powerhouse.

The bid has also seen local crossparty support, with Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Simon Clarke and Redcar MP Anna Turley voicing their approval of Mayor Houchen's plan.

The withdrawal of the UK from the EU in March 2019 could allow Tees Valley to house a new form of free port, currently difficult due to State Aid Laws and the Customs Union.

There are different free port models which have operated successfully in many countries around the world. They provide special freedoms to trade, within a specific area around a major port. Free Port status supports the expansion of international trade by offering exemptions from certain operational, regulatory and customs requirements. …

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