There have been various reports indicating that many in the United Kingdom want to designate “freeports” now that the country has left the European Union. Those in favor of the freeports argue that they will drive business due to their low taxes. Inverclyde has recently made it known that it hopes to become one of those new freeports that the UK creates.
Freeports are essentially tax havens, as these are special zones that do not have to follow the typical rules of customs and taxes. This includes the ability for imports to enter via freeports without paying any tariffs and with completing simplified documentation instead of the typically required extensive documentation.
Businesses within a freeport, as well as those around it, can use the imports to manufacture goods and then immediately export those produced goods. This allows them to add value to the products and make a profit without having to deal with full procedures or tariffs.
The current proposal from Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, suggests creating as many as 10 freeports throughout the United Kingdom.
Who Is Behind the Campaign?
The campaign to give Inverclyde tax haven status and designate it a freeport comes from multiple people, with the Campaign to Save Inchgreen Dry Dock among the strongest supporters of the idea. This organization is lobbying for this designation, arguing that it would attract major players in the marine industry as well as bring more quality jobs into the area.
Robert Buirds, a member of the campaign, spoke to Greenock Telegraph, arguing that the idea of a freeport is a “great opportunity” to regenerate industry in the area. He went on to say that the area needs to maximize its opportunities and if one of those opportunities comes from being a freeport, then that is a positive.
According to Buirds, Inverclyde needs an injection of cash and is actively looking to maximize investments from the UK and Scottish governments. If Inverclyde became a freeport, it would attract those in the marine industry, providing that cash injection.
The Campaign to Save Inchgreen Dry Dock does not plan to just lobby for the freeport designation without any concrete actions. It plans to apply to Liz Truss to get freeport status. In the meantime, it is working to get all of the local politicians on board with its plan, arguing that it would benefit all.
Where Others in Inverclyde Stand
Haroun Malik, who was Inverclyde’s Conservative candidate last year has publically promoted the idea of the area becoming a freeport.
There has also been support from Graeme Brooks, the Greenock Tory councilor, who wrote to Truss last year with a request for her to visit Inverclyde to see for herself how it would be beneficial for it and the country if it were a freeport. In his letter, he pointed out that Inverclyde served “decades as the key seaport on the west of Scotland” and that it is the cruise ship capital of Scotland.
There is also cautious support from Ronnie Cowan, the SNP MP. He pointed out that a report from the Financial Times “slammed freeports as a useful contributor to the UK economy,” but that there may also be benefits for the local economy. Cowan’s support is cautious, however, and before he can fully support the idea, he wants answers as to how the government would prevent people from using the freeport for money laundering or tax evasion. He does not doubt that the government should be able to produce a satisfactory answer in that regard.
With up to 10 freeports under consideration in the United Kingdom, Inverclyde has a chance of becoming one, although the idea of freeports is still being debated.
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