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Government announces plans for new freeports to support post-Brexit growth

The government has announced plans for up to 10 freeports to be opened across the UK as part of a wider plan to ‘regenerate communities and turbocharge Britain’s post-Brexit growth’. 

Currently in a 10-week consultation period, the aim is to announce the location of the new zones before the end of the year and to begin operating in 2021.

The hope is that the freeports will boost trade, jobs and investment whilst also creating innovate business clusters and hubs of business and enterprise.

New Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, commented that: “Freeports will unleash the potential in our proud historic ports, boosting and regenerating communities across the UK as we level up. They will attract new businesses, spreading jobs, investment and opportunity to towns and cities up and down the country.

“This is all part of our mission as an open, outward-looking country, championing global free trade with vibrant Freeports that work for all of the UK.”

Read more: Government confirms import controls on EU goods

Businesses secretary Andrea Leadsom also noted that the free ports will help create more jobs whilst underscoring the UK’s commitment to global free trade, whilst Minister for the Northern Powerhouse Jake Berry said that freeports will boost the region in particular.

The model would mean that duty wouldn’t need to be paid if products are re-exported, raw materials can avoid duties until made into the final product and a full customs declaration wouldn’t be required. 

The government says it’s also assessing new tax measures to support investment in infrastructure and machinery around freeports to stimulate productivity and reducing the cost of hiring required workers. 

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Government confirms import controls on EU goods

The government has confirmed plans to implement import controls on goods entering the UK from the European Union once the transition period comes to an end on 31st December. 

After departing the EU’s customs union and single market, all UK exports and imports will be treated equally according to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, meaning that both EU and UK firms will need to submit customs declarations and be liable for goods checks. 

The government has given four key reasons as to why new customs checks will be required following the transition period, including security, treating all partners equally as new trade arrangements are agreed with other countries, collecting the correct customs, VAT and excise duties, and also simply matching what the EU says it will implement on UK goods entering the Eurozone. 

Read more: Two new digital tools available for UK exporters

Michael Gove said at a Border Delivery Group stakeholder event that: “The UK will be outside the single market and outside the customs union, so we will have to be ready for the customs procedures and regulatory checks that will inevitably follow.

“As a result of that we will be in a stronger position, not just to make sure that our economy succeeds outside the European Union but that we are in a position to take advantage of new trading relationships with the rest of the world.”

Businesses are urged to ensure they’ve applied for an Economic Operator Registration and Identification number (EORI) as soon as possible.

HMRC has also announced further funding and extended the deadline for businesses to apply for grants to help prepare for additional customs checks and paperwork following the transition period. Learn more about the grants and how to apply available here

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