Liverpool to bid for freeport status in bid to boost trade

Liverpool is set to bid to become a freeport in a bid to drive economic growth after Brexit.

Peel Ports, which runs the port, confirmed it had submitted a bid to become one of 10 new UK freeports.

The policy, announced last year as part of the government's bid to change how the UK trades with the world in the wake of our exit from the EU, will see special tax regimes in place for the areas chosen.

A spokeswoman at Peel Ports said freeport status would create jobs and opportunities in Liverpool and the wider region.

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She said: “The Port of Liverpool provides a strategic option for a free port and we believe that a freeport and enterprise zone with Liverpool at its heart could act as a catalyst for a wide range of win-win trade scenarios post-Brexit.

“Being awarded freeport status will be a key driver of economic generation in the wider city region and will create an opportunity to stimulate regional economic growth, create jobs, increase manufacturing opportunities and create global trading hubs.

“All of which provide attractive benefits to businesses looking to import goods, helping stimulate foreign direct investment.

"Freeports allow tax concessions and other benefits to goods imported to the area until they leave the port, allowing it to operate on a separate customs regime than the rest of the UK. ”

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Liverpool was a freeport until from the 1980s until 2012, when the status lapsed after legislation which ensured the existence of freeports expired.

Proponents say new freeports will provide an economic boon once Britain's transition agreement with the EU ends and it begins to pursue a fully independent trade policy.

However, some trade experts have criticised the freeports plan, saying it will not provide substantial economic benefits and that they didn't suit the UK's current economic position.

Speaking at a parliamentary evidence committee on the policy last week, Cambridge University professor Catherine Barnard said the former freeport status of ports in the UK was allowed to lapse because they had been deemed unnecessary at the time.

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She told committee members: "There was a sense that they'd rather run out of steam, that we have become more modern in terms of our delivery of customs and could do the work without the freeports."

Other areas that have already announced bids for freeport status include London, the Humber and Forth ports.