BPA calls for post-Brexit port zoning
Cross-border trade facilitation has been neglected in Brexit negotiations, the British Ports Association’s (BPA) chief executive Richard Ballantyne has claimed.
Commenting following a speech by Department for Exiting the European Union (DexEU) Secretary David Davis at Teesport, Mr Ballantyne called for a post-Brexit port zoning approach to encourage regional and coastal development and boost trade.
“It is apparent that a far greater focus is being put on the UK’s future global new trade arrangements, rather than on the vitally important cross border operational provisions for the almost 50% of our trade that is with our European neighbours,” Mr Ballantyne said.
The BPA has written to UK Chancellor Philip Hammond, outlining its vision for UK ports to be granted a special status which would enable them to facilitate and accommodate development, enterprise and regional growth.
Highlighting the significance of port activities in coastal regions, Ballantyne added: “Our vision is for a new pro-growth and trade initiative where UK ports are designated as ‘Port Development and Enterprise Zones’, encouraging regional and coastal development and boosting trade.”
Within such zones, trade and industrial activity could be incentivised by favourable business, tax and planning conditions and could cover ports, tenants and businesses that undertake important activities around port locations and provide significant levels of employment.
There are some ports such as Milford Haven and Teesport where there could be interest in the free ports concept, said the BPA.
Whilst free port status might not be suitable for all ports and it will “certainly not provide a Brexit solution for gateway ports”, the Government “needs to examine” future feasibility and if the terms of any Brexit departure deal would even allow free ports, Mr Ballantyne stated.
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