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03 Mar 2021 | 14:45

UK Budget: Sunak announces eight new freeports

(Sharecast News) - The government will create eight new English freeports, chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed in his budget on Wednesday. The freeports will be at East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe and Harwich, Humber, Liverpool City Region, Plymouth, Solent, Thames, and Teesside.

The sites will be eligible for stamp duty and business rates relief. In some instances, there will also be National Insurance relief for employers.

A freeport is a designated area where normal tax and customs rules don't apply and where imports can enter without paying tariffs. Similar to free zones, they are designated areas subject to a number of special regulatory requirements, tax breaks and government support.

Sunak said they will "unlock billions of pounds of private sector investment" and generate trade and jobs "up and down the country".

"Freeports are special economic zones with different rules to make it easier and cheaper to do business. They're well established internationally, but we're taking a unique approach," Sunak explained.

"Our freeports will have simpler planning to allow businesses to build, infrastructure funding to improve transport links, cheaper customs with favourable tariffs, VAT or duties, and lower taxes, with tax breaks to encourage construction, private investment and job creation."

Stephen Phipson, chief executive of manufacturers trade body Make UK, said: "We welcome the clarity on the locations of the freeports and look forward to working with the Government on the tax and planning regimes as they develop.

"Freeports could play an important role as part of the Government's levelling up agenda from a regional development perspective, and could act as a booster mechanism."
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