Stephen Barclay – 2020 Statement on Freeports

The statement made by Stephen Barclay, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, in the House of Commons on 7 October 2020.

On 7 October, the Government responded to the recently closed public consultation on freeports.

A freeport is a place to carry out business inside a country’s land border but where different customs rules apply. A firm can import goods into a freeport without paying tariffs, process them into a final good and then either pay a tariff on goods sold into the domestic market, or export the final goods without paying UK tariffs. They also allow goods to be temporarily stored without paying duties. Countries around the world have successfully used freeports to drive investment and prosperity.

The creation of freeports across the UK will be a cornerstone of the Government’s plan to level up opportunity across the country. Freeports will be national hubs for trade, innovation and commerce, regenerating communities across the UK. They can attract new businesses, spreading jobs, investment and opportunity to towns and cities up and down the country.

Our published response confirms our intent to deliver freeports and sets out how our proposals will be achieved. At the centre of our new freeports policy is an ambitious new customs model which will improve upon both the UK’s existing customs facilitations and the freeports the UK previously had. Our model also introduces a package of tax incentives for businesses to invest in freeports to level up some of our most deprived communities. We are introducing new measures to speed up planning processes to accelerate development in and around freeports and new initiatives to encourage innovators to generate new ideas to create additional economic growth and jobs.

Freeports will be selected through a fair, transparent and competitive process, and will be expected to collaborate closely with key partners across the public and private sectors.​

We want all the nations of the UK to share in the benefits of freeports. As such, we are working constructively and collaboratively with the devolved administrations to seek to establish at least one freeport in each nation of the UK.

The “Freeports Response to the Consultation” CP302 has been laid in Parliament. Copies are available in the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office, and also at